Golson has options entering his final season of eligibility

golson-lsuMyrtle Beach High product and Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson told reporters after the Music City Bowl that he is in line to graduate in May. But Golson said he plans to return to the Fightin’ Irish in the fall despite a brewing QB controversy.

Following a sloppy finish to the 2014 regular season, Golson lost his starting job in Wednesday’s 31-28 victory over LSU in Nashville. But the senior came through in the clutch in leading the Irish (8-5) on a game-winning field goal drive to beat the Tigers.

But both Notre Dame quarterbacks – new starter Malik Zaire and Golson – came up with clutch plays on the drive. Golson completed 4 of 5 passes for 50 yards and Zaire rushed for 8 yards and a first down to the Tigers’ 14 with 42 seconds left to set up the game-winning field goal.

That sets the stage for a battle over the starting job if Golson opts to return to improve on his roller-coaster season. Golson was a Heisman Trophy contender in the Fighting Irish’s 6-0 start and came within an offensive pass interference call of a dramatic last-second win at defending national champion Florida State on Oct. 25.

But Golson’s play fell off drastically down the stretch as the Irish lost four games in a row and Kelly finally decided to start Zaire, a 6-foot, 210-pound sophomore. Golson finished the season with 3,445 yards and 29 touchdowns, but he also threw 14 interceptions and lost eight fumbles to end the regular season.

Zaire validated his coach’s choice with an excellent game. The left-hander threw for 96 yards and a touchdown on 12-of-15 passing while rushing for 96 yards and another score on 22 carries. Most important, Zaire and Golson played a turnover-free game, which had been Golson’s downfall in the second half of the season.

According to IrishIllustrated.com, Golson said he planned to return to Notre Dame in the fall, presumably as a graduate student. However, Golson does have the opportunity to transfer to another major college program for his final season of eligibility without sitting out a season. He also could declare for early entry to the NFL but his stock dropped considerably after the volatile campaign.

Photo courtesy of ND Athletics

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