NOTRE DAME, Ind. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly says quarterback Everett Golson will return to school after serving a semester-long suspension for academic impropriety.
"There's going to be a lot of noise surrounding Everett Golson. I think there's going to be as many people looking for him to not succeed as there will be to succeed. Unfortunately, not everybody likes a good story. So there will be some cynics out there," Kelly said. "I think we're going to have to support him. But he's prepared to handle all those things."
Golson was suspended from the university in May for the fall semester and readmitted to school on Friday. He will not begin working out with the team until after the 25th-ranked Irish (8-4) play Rutgers (6-6) in the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City on Dec. 28.
Golson plans to travel to New York on his own and will visit with the team, Kelly said. He has not talked to Golson since he had been readmitted, saying they had missed each other's telephone calls. But Kelly traveled to Golson's hometown of Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Tuesday to meet with him.
Golson, who was listed at 185 pounds when Notre Dame faced Alabama in the national championship game last year, looked "physically more mature, probably over 200 pounds," Kelly said. "He looked great, quite frankly. Great physical condition and I think mentally is really where I saw a young man that understands what he's coming back to."
The Irish will be looking for more from Golson, whom Kelly said still needs to beat out freshman Malik Zaire, who didn't play this season. Golson put up decent numbers last season, but needed to be rescued several times by Tommy Rees, who started for the Irish this season.
Kelly said he believes Golson is set up to be a leader on the team by the way he handled being suspended.
"I think he's gotten a lot of respect from his teammates for the manner that he handled himself. He took full accountability and responsibility for his actions," he said.
Kelly believes Golson will now be judged by how he acts moving forward. Kelly said he has more trust in Golson of he responded to being suspended.
"He's done everything that we've asked him. I think he's added a little bit to that bank of trust over this period of time. I think we'll go into this offseason expecting him to continue to build on that," he said.
While Golson returns, Kelly also has been dealing with the departures of defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, who was introduced as head coach at UConn on Thursday, and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin, who was hired as head coach at Miami of Ohio on Dec. 3.
That means the Irish will be without both of its coordinators for the bowl game. Rutgers also will be without several coaches after firing its defensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and offensive line coach. Kelly said he doesn't expect the moves to have much impact on the game.
"It's hard to put in new schemes at this time because they're in exams, like we are. You're not putting in a ton of new schemes. You may accentuate one thing or another. But you're going to look very similar to what you are during the season," he said.
Kelly also said he doesn't expect to lose any other assistant coaches despite speculation in the media that Diaco might bring a Notre Dame assistant with him.
"I expect all my staff to stay in place," he said.