Quarterback Everett Golson has been readmitted to Notre Dame after being suspended for the fall semester for what he termed "poor judgment on a test" after helping the Fighting Irish get to the national championship game a season ago.
Golson was officially readmitted Friday afternoon, said Paul Browne, Notre Dame vice president for public affairs and communications. Coach Brian Kelly previously had said he hoped Golson could practice with the Irish during bowl preparation, but last week said there wasn't enough time because Golson isn't eligible until Dec. 21 and the team leaves for the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City on Dec. 23.
Kelly said Golson, who has two years of eligibility left, would not travel with the team to the bowl, but said Golson might be in New York around that time.
At the Notre Dame football awards show Friday, Irish players said they were excited to see Golson was back, even the departing seniors who won't be around to play with Everett one more season.
"I'm estatic for him," Captain TJ Jones said. "Everett and I had a close relationship. I was his host when he was being recruited and we built a relationship on and off the field when he was here. Knowing he's back and he's being re-enrolled, it's good for me to here because I know it's something he wanted."
"We're really happy for him and that he stuck with it and decided to come back here," Captain Zack Martin says. "He's a great player and I'm looking forward to what he's going to do on the field because the sky is the limit for him."
"Everett's going to do great," linebacker Prince Shembo explains. "I was kind of bummed out because Everett was supposed to be my roommate before the whole situation happened. I call him and he's doing well. I think he's going to do a lot of great things to watch."
Current Irish freshman who have yet to play with Golson are looking forward to it.
"I'm excited to have the opportunity to play with him because I've heard great things about him," freshman running back Tarean Folston says.
Golson helped the Irish go 12-0 during the regular season last year, regain the No. 1 ranking for the first time in nearly two decades and get to the title game against Alabama in January, but Kelly said last month the starter's job won't be handed to him. Kelly said he expects freshman Malik Zaire, who didn't play this season, to compete with Golson for the job and said backup Andrew Hendrix could return for a fifth year of eligibility.
"We think there is going to be some very good competition for that position with him," Kelly said.
Golson completed 59 percent of his passes last year for 2,405 yards with 12 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He also ran for 298 yards and team-high six touchdowns.
Kelly had been counting on Golson to play an even bigger role this season until he was suspended in May. Without Golson, the Irish lost their threat of a quarterback who could run, turning instead to former starter Tommy Rees, who guided the Irish to an 8-4 record.
Kelly said last week that he is pleased with how Golson has responded to being suspended.
"His comments were right on, in my estimation. I think he took full responsibility for his actions, didn't back away from them," he said.
Kelly said Golson may have been too forthright in an interview with Sports Illustrated. In that interview, asked directly if he cheated on a test, Golson said: "Yeeeeeeeaaaahhh, something like that."
Kelly said he was pleased Golson never backed away from his initial statement that he wanted to return to Notre Dame, saying he planned to return as "a better student athlete as well as a better individual."
"I think he's been a stand-up guy in this whole process," Kelly said.
Kelly said he thinks Golson will come back as a better player.
"I think we're going to get a better person and someone more committed because he's going to be someone who is more committed to being a better student and more committed to everything he does. I think that's going to be a better quarterback at Notre Dame," he said.