Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 22 of 63 APRIL 2017 23 QUARTERBACKS 2017 SPRING FOOTBALL PREVIEW B randon Wimbush (No. 60 overall player in the class of 2015) is an ultra- talented player who was a higher ranked national pros- pect than both DeShone Kizer (unranked in Rivals top 250 players) and Malik Zaire (No. 122 overall player in the country). The 6-1, 226-pounder has possessed arguably the best arm on the roster the past two seasons. He's also a top-level athlete that can make plays with his legs just as ef- fectively as he can with his arm. What Wimbush lacks is experi- ence, having played only mop up reps in two games during his fresh- man season. He has, however, been noted behind the scenes for his leader- ship and work ethic, and he showed excellent command of the huddle dur- ing his senior season at St. Peter's Prep, which ended with a 34-18 state champi- onship victory over Paramus Catholic. Wimbush passed for 155 yards, rushed for 170 yards and accounted for three touchdowns in the victory. How quickly Wimbush can show the same command of the Notre Dame of- fense will go a long way towards deter- mining whether or not he can play at a level good enough to get the Irish back in playoff contention. Sophomore Ian Book is poised to emerge as the backup to Wimbush. He is undersized at 6-0 and 208 pounds, but he's a quality athlete and has a quick release. Should his name be called, he is capable of manag- ing the offense, but he doesn't have Wimbush's playmaking ability. BY THE NUMBERS 0 N u m b e r o f re t u r n i n g starts for the Irish at quar- terback, a year after going through the preseason with two veteran signal-callers. 22-4 Notre Dame's record the last two seasons that Brian Kelly had a first-time starter at quarterback (2012 and 2015). 58 Yards gained on a touch- down run by Wimbush during a matchup against Massachusetts on Sept. 26, 2015. A freshman at the time, Wimbush finished that game with 92 yards on four carries. 3,910 Total yards piled up by Wimbush during his senior season while leading Jer- sey City (N.J.) St. Peter's to a New Jersey Non-Public Group 4 state championship. WHO'S GONE DeShone Kizer The team MVP passed for 2,925 yards and ac- counted for 34 touch- downs in 2016. He de- parts as Notre Dame's career leader in rush- ing touchdowns by a quarterback (18), career points responsibility per game (15.6) and career total offense per game (272.0). Malik Zaire The left-hander never got a chance to start in 2016 and elected to transfer for his final season of eligibility. WHO'S BACK Junior Brandon Wimbush The consensus four-star recruit played in two games and threw fives passes as a fresh- man in 2015 before redshirting last season. Rivals ranked him as the nation's No. 4 dual- threat quarterback in the 2015 class. Sophomore Ian Book He passed for 3,049 yards and racked up 42 touchdowns as a senior at El Dorado Hills (Ca- lif.) Oak Ridge High and is expected to back up Wimbush. Senior Montgomery VanGorder The son of former defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder is poised to maintain his role as the team's holder on kicks. TOP NEWCOMERS Freshman Avery Davis The dual-threat signal-caller from Cedar Hill (Texas) High passed for 5,014 yards, rushed for 1,376 yards and accounted for 82 touchdowns in his two years as a starter. Returning Returning Year-End Year Starts Passing Yards/TD Passing Yards/TD 2016 14 3,578/26 3,051/27 2017 0 17/0 — QUOTABLE "The quarterback position, whether it's at Notre Dame or anywhere else, requires an incredible spirit in itself that you've got to be able to handle so many other things that are outside of football. What I'm asking [Brandon Wimbush] to do is probably more focused on him just taking care of himself. And we've got a lot of good leaders. I'm giving him some leadership opportunities, and he's doing quite well." — HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY ON JUNIOR QUARTERBACK BRANDON WIMBUSH PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA BRANDON WIMBUSH

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