SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson got more than an accessory for his helmet Thursday. He got the starting job.
Me and (coach Brian) Kelly had this so-called deal; when I came in, I actually wanted a visor right off. I’m asking Coach Kelly, I’m ready for the visor. Can I get the visor?’ What he told me was, you won’t get the visor until you start here, said Golson, who was named the starter for the season opener against Navy on Sept. 1 in Dublin, Ireland. It was a little monumental for me to get the visor.
Golson said Kelly told him he beat out junior Andrew Hendrix for the job Wednesday, but the 6-foot, 185-pound sophomore wasn’t positive he was the starter Thursday morning when he didn’t see a visor on his helmet before he went to class.
But when he returned for practice in the afternoon, the visor was on his helmet.
It definitely means a lot, Golson said. I know with this also comes a lot of responsibility. So I’m not going to rejoice in it. I’m happy about it, but I understand that it is time to go to work right now.
Kelly described Golson as a heart attack after the sophomore threw for 120 yards with two touchdowns and ran for another 25 yards in the Blue-Gold Game on April 21.
Golson, who didn’t play as a freshman, has eased his coach’s concerns with a strong fall camp. Kelly said Golson has only been intercepted three times during fall camp.
He won the job, Kelly said.
It was a tough decision, but Everett clearly won the starting job.
Along with Hendrix, Notre Dame also has last year’s starter Tommy Rees and Gunner Kiel at quarterback.
Rees, who is 12-4 as a starter, is suspended for the opener because of being arrested in May. Kiel will likely not play this season and preserve a year of eligibility.
Kelly said he wants to be able to stick with Golson at quarterback for the entire season.
I think we prepared the offense to suit a first-time starter, Kelly said. Any time you’re starting somebody with four seasons of competition, you know he is going to learn more and experience more as he plays.
We also have to make sure we put him in good positions. I think you will see that on game day.
Golson will need to prove he can efficiently run the offense and protect the football. The Irish turned the ball over 29 times last season (17 interceptions and 12 fumbles).
Kelly said Golson will receiver about 70 percent of the practice snaps to prepare for Navy, but that is not a hard number.
There might be some plays that I want to see more with Andrew maybe than I would with Everett, Kelly said.
Golson said he is aware that being the starter for the opener doesn’t mean he will start the entire season.
They made the announcement that I’m the starter for Navy, that doesn’t really solidify that I’m the starter for the whole season, Golson said.
I’m going to keep my foot on the gas and keep pushing. I’m just going to try to be the best player I can be.
Notes: Kelly also announced freshman KeiVarae Russell as the starting cornerback opposite Bennett Jackson. Kelly said freshman receiver Davonte’ Neal will return punts and sophomore running back George Atkinson III will return kickoffs.