MIAMI. — Everett Golson, Notre Dame's starting quarterback in Monday's college football championship game, was an afterthought six months ago when the Fighting Irish began preparing for the 2012 season.
Veteran Tommy Rees, who started several games the previous two seasons, was back. So too Andrew Hendrix, who saw playing time in 2011. And the presence of Gunner Kiel, last year's top high school quarterback prospect, only added to the depth chart.
Golson, who spent the entire 2011 season on Notre Dame's scout team as a redshirt freshman, was just another wannabe at a school that has produced legendary quarterbacks.
But Golson's mobility, running ability and arm strength impressed head coach Brian Kelly, and now the Myrtle Beach, S. C., native is on the verge of leading No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0) to its first national football title in 24 years.
“Coming in (last year) I thought I was ready to play, or had that confidence that I was ready to play. But it wasn’t that way for me,” Golson said. “Being put on the scout team really humbled me and made me kind of reassess myself.”
Kelly surprised the experts when he named Golson the team’s starter back in August before heading to Ireland for the season opener against Navy. He played well in the 50-10 win, but struggled against Purdue and Michigan and missed the game against BYU because of concussion.
Kelly twice pulled Golson in favor of Rees during September games and it appeared a quarterback controversy was brewing even though Kelly insisted otherwise. He backed up that claim by sticking with Golson, who had his best game of the season against Miami (Fla.) Oct. 6 at Soldier Field in Chicago, a 41-3 Irish victory.
“That built a little bit of confidence in me,” said Golson. “What was instilled in me there showed (later) in the Oklahoma game and the Pitt game.”