Brian Kelly has his quarterback, again. But this time Notre Dame's head coach will turn to an athlete hand-picked for the position instead of going for another inherited option.
After practice on Thursday, Kelly announced Everett Golson had won the starting quarterback job, beating out Andrew Hendrix, Gunner Kiel and the suspended Tommy Rees. Golson had been trending toward the job for weeks, with speculation spilling out during the day that Kelly would announce the sophomore from South Carolina after practice.
"It's Everett Golson, he'll be our starter," Kelly said. "He won the job. It was a tough decision, but he clearly won the job."
Kelly had been noncommittal about publicly naming a quarterback for the past week but had intimated the team would know who'd ultimately start entering this week, whether that meant an announcement in meetings or simply the division of reps among quarterbacks.
That extra work will now go to Golson, who on paper appears to have all the attributes Kelly wants. Unlike Hendrix and Crist, Golson developed in a spread offense in high school. And unlike Rees, Golson has mobility to his game.
Kiel represented the fourth option, but the former five-star recruit has been playing catch-up in the playbook since he arrived at Notre Dame last spring.
Kelly said he doesn't want to play two quarterbacks in the opener and hopes his opening day starter keeps the job throughout the season. While Rees will be eligible to compete for the job when the team arrives home from Ireland, he took virtually no live reps during camp as Kelly tried to maximize the learning opportunities for Golson and Hendrix.
It appears Golson made the most of them.
Look for more on Notre Dame's new quarterback tonight on Irish Illustrated, including video interviews with Kelly and Golson along with an Instant Analysis video piece from the staff.