It’s funny how quickly things can change in college football. Notre Dame entered this past season considered by some to be a dark horse playoff contender, and with a problem that basically any coach in college football would love to have: Two quarterbacks with plenty of game experience, both more than capable of leading the team.
That’s how the Irish’s season looked on paper anyway, at least until the team lost to Texas on Labor Day weekend and limped to a 4-8 record overall this season. And oh, those two quarterbacks? Well after DeShone Kizer won the gig, Malik Zaire was relegated to the bench. Eventually he decided to transfer a few weeks ago, which was followed shortly thereafter by Kizer announcing on Monday he’ll go pro. A team which had two underclassmen quarterbacks with experience entering 2016 will have zero entering what could be a make-or-break year for coach Brian Kelly in 2017.
So with that said, who does Notre Dame actually have to play quarterback next fall? Here are five candidates, with a wild card thrown in the mix at the end.
Brandon Wimbush (Redshirt Sophomore)
Wimbush is the overwhelming favorite to get the starting job, as the only scholarship quarterback on the roster with starting experience. And even that “experience” is limited to just five total passes for 17 yards as a true freshman last season. He redshirted this year in 2016.
Another player who redshirted this season, Book is a former three-star pro-style quarterback from California. Not much is known about Book, but other than Wimbush, he’ll almost certainly enter the spring as the only scholarship quarterback on the roster with the chance to earn the job full-time.
The son of Brian VanGorder, the Notre Dame defensive coordinator who was fired midseason, VanGorder hasn’t taken a single snap in his college career. It’s unlikely he does so in 2017, if he even stays at the school.
Nolan Henry (Redshirt Freshman)
Henry, a walk-on from Washington, sat out the 2016 as a redshirt. Like VanGorder, it’d be stunning if he plays a single down for the Irish next year.
With so many quality grad transfers on the market, could Brian Kelly look to add to his quarterback depth with a big name from another school? Alabama’s Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell are still on the market, as is former USC starter Max Browne. Browne has no restrictions on his transfer, so even though the Irish play the Trojans next year, he could come to South Bend.
It’s early, but with so much uncertainty don’t rule out this possibility.