Brian Kelly's post Thursday practice media session was headlined by the news that nose guard Louis Nix was done for the year after season ending knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
Lost in those headlines was that Kelly also gave some very valuable information about the future of the Notre Dame quarterback position. Tommy Rees will play his final game at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday and wrap up his career under the golden dome in a bowl game next month.
2012 starter Everett Golson is expected to return in December after a semester long suspension for cheating on a test. It's unclear if Andrew Hendrix will return for a 5th season as an Irish backup and then there's true freshman Malik Zaire, who Kelly has held out completely this year to preserve a year of eligibility.
"Quite honestly with sugarcoating it and just cutting to it--I wanted to redshirt him," Kelly openly said of Zaire. "I wanted a quarterback that was going to be a 5th year guy. Throughout it all, we wanted that more than anything else and we are going to get that with Malik."
Kelly was asked if it would have been worth burning the redshirt and playing Zaire this year in case something were to happen with Golson that would force Zaire into game action in 2014.
"I'm not be cute but that's assuming that Everett is the starter right?" Kelly asked. "We think there is going to be some very good competition for that position with him. Certainly those two young man and we have to sit down with Andrew and where we go from there--and have that conversation with Andrew and find out where we move from there."
Kelly did stress that Zaire has been mentored greatly during this season despite not playing.
"I took him on every trip," Kelly said. "He got to see the different venues. He got to see the different atmospheres throughout the country. He's gotten to see what it's like to prepare on the road--really giving him that sense of what it takes in terms of the preparation to be the starting quarterback here. He's been in every meeting, he did not go down to scout team for one second. He's been involved in every game planning session. He just hasn't taken the reps which he will get a ton of reps as we break and get into the spring."
Kelly said on Tuesday that Golson has reapplied for admission to Notre Dame. A decision on his status is expected in December.