Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told reporters Saturday that he hasn't had a chance to talk to Everett Golson since the quarterback was readmitted to the university Friday.
But Kelly did like what he saw when he met with the returning player in Golson's hometown of Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Tuesday.
"He's physically more mature, probably over 200 pounds. He looked great quite frankly," Kelly said. "I think mentally is really where I saw a young man that understands what he is coming back to. He even said that I know that there are going to be a lot of people out there looking at me, and not all of them are going to want to see me succeed. He knows what he is coming into. He's coming back as somebody who is going to have to lead."
Golson, who would have been a junior this season, was suspended for the fall semester in May for what he called "poor academic judgment."
Kelly said the way Golson handled the situation will allow the quarterback, who helped lead the Irish to a 12-0 regular season and a spot in the BCS championship game last year, to return as a leader.
"I think he's gotten a lot of respect from his teammates in the manner that he handled himself," Kelly said. "He took full responsibility and accountability for his actions, didn't point a finger, he was a thumb pointer when it came to this matter.
"I think he will be judged by how he acts, and if he's truly the guy that we think he is going to be, he will earn that respect by his actions."
Golson will not be able to start rebuilding that respect until spring practice.
Golson will not practice with the No. 25 Irish (8-4) as they prepare to play Rutgers (6-6) in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28 in Yankee Stadium. He also cannot travel with the team to New York.
But when Golson can return to the field, Kelly said he will trust him as the quarterback tries to regain the starting job.
"I think trust is always about you add to it and sometimes you withdraw from that bank of trust over a period of time," Kelly said. "I think in the situation that he has gone through, he's done everything that we have asked him, I think he has added to that bank of trust.
"We will go into this offseason expecting him to build on that."
While Golson can't play in the bowl game, Kelly said he expects to see Golson in New York.
"We are going to try and arrange for him to come down and spend a little time," Kelly said. "He'll be in New York. He's already made those arrangements."