Before the season---Everett Golson was battling Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix and Gunner Kiel for the right to be Notre Dame's starting quarterback.
With Rees suspended for the season opener against Navy due to a May arrest, Golson started the season opener. While Rees started two games during 2012 and replaced Golson during the crucial moments of three other games, Golson has just continued to grow.
Saturday night, Golson passed for 217 yards as the Irish (12-0) completed their first perfect regular season since 1988, earning a trip to south Florida on Jan. 7 to play for the storied program's first national championship in 24 years. Notre Dame's raucous locker-room celebration reverberated through the thick concrete walls of the 89-year-old Coliseum after an Irish win for the ages.
Golson is now 10-0 as a starter.
My how far he's come since Rees replaced him to run the 2-minute drill in the home opener back in September.
"I feel a lot more comfortable," Golson says. "I keep going back to the Purdue game and it was a lot for me."
Brian Kelly says Golson's growth has been a process.
"We're right in the mix of it and you're watching it," Kelly explained. "He's making better decisions with the football. I guess the difference is that he's not careless with the football. Careless I can't take. He's going to make some bad decisions every once in a while, but he's no longer careless with the football."
So how does it feel to be the starting quarterback of a Notre Dame team that will play for a national championship?
"It feels great, it feels great," Golson said Saturday. "I'm excited right now but I want to get this next win."
Golson showed plenty of that excitement on the field Saturday after Notre Dame clinched its victory over USC. He was probably going crazier than anyone on the field.
"It was a great feeling--knowing everything you worked for in spring ball, summer camp--it all proved itself to be true," Golson explained.
So how happy is Golson that he choose Notre Dame?
"Very happy, very happy," Golson says with a big smile and his signature laugh. "One of the reasons I chose this schools is because we have a great sense of unity, a great sense of family. That's really one of the main reasons I chose [Notre Dame]."
Golson says he's ready for Miami.