Golson takes RG3’s words to heart before second start

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly recalls a very lost Everett Golson coming into his office last winter and asking what he needed to do to get better.

The Myrtle Beach native was feeling a bit out of his climate in more ways than one on the chilly campus in South Bend, Ind. For the first time in his young and charmed life, everything he touched was not turning to gold.

Kelly, never one to miss a chance to motivate, gave the struggling freshman quarterback some words of encouragement and some homework: Google “Robert Griffith III Heisman Trophy acceptance speech” and listen.

“What I talked about was that playing the quarterback position at Notre Dame is more than just what you do on the field,” Kelly recalled at Tuesday’s weekly press conference.

“I used Robert Griffin as a great example as an ambassador of college football. I said, ‘Listen, all you have to do is take a look at his Heisman acceptance speech and how he was able to articulate his experience and how it was more than just playing the game.’ ”

Not exactly “Win one for the Gipper,” but the former Baylor star turned Washington Redskins’ words must have struck a chord with the rocket-armed QB who led Myrtle Beach to two state championships. Golson now bears little resemblance to the rookie who walked out of the coach’s office that day. Six months later, he is the starting quarterback for the Fighting Irish and getting better every day.

Golson won the four-way QB battle in spring and summer workouts, aided by the suspension of returning starter Tommy Rees. But he solidified it Saturday by leading Notre Dame to a 50-10 win over Navy. Golson completed 12 of his 18 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw an interception and made a few other rookie mistakes. But those are to be expected from a kid making his first start in Ireland.

“Oh, there’s so many things that he has to improve upon, but they are items that we feel really confident that he already has a good grasp on and will continue to evolve and then there are things that we have to continue to work on with him on a day to day basis,” Kelly said.

“This is a process for Everett. This will be a continuation week to week of growing as a quarterback. I guess what I like the most in the big picture sense was his comfortable place out on the field. He did not seem overwhelmed at any time. He was extremely communicative when he got to the sideline. He could tell me what was going on. Those are all big picture, good things, after game one.”

Still, it was enough for Kelly to stick with Golson for at least one more Saturday, when the Irish play host to Purdue and redshirt freshman gets his first chance to play a real game at the Golden Dome.

“I’m glad I got that first game out of the way,” Golson said. “Now for me it’s more settling down and trying to lead this team and be the quarterback for Notre Dame.”

Who knows?  At the rate he is improving over the course of the next four years, Golson someday may be making a Heisman acceptance speech of his own.

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