Who is Malik Zaire? Can He Lead Notre Dame to Glory?


Can Zaire be the one to lead them back to prominence?

Malik Zaire


Notre Dame

’s starting quarterback, but how much do we know about him?

Brian Kelly

and other coaches have stated that Zaire is supremely confident and has tremendous leadership qualities. He will need these attributes and more because he is inexperienced. He has much upside because he is a great runner and has a strong arm, but will all this equate into many Notre Dame victories?

Let’s take a look at Zaire’s background and how he has arrived at his destiny. He graduated from Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio outside Dayton. During his junior season in 2011, Zaire threw for over 700 yards, five touchdowns and rushed for 1,090 yards and 15 touchdowns. In his senior year, Zaire threw for 1,990 yards and 24 touchdowns, ran for 1,100 yards and nine touchdowns. His great high school career was noticed nationally. He was ranked 189th on the ESPN 300, 122nd on the Rivals 250 list, and more importantly, ranked third on the Rivals.com list of dual-threat quarterbacks. In addition, he was selected for the Semper Fidelis All-American bowl following his senior season.

He chose Notre Dame and enrolled in January 2013. At Notre Dame, he was red-shirted his freshman year. During his sophomore year last season, Zaire played sparingly. He played in the second half of the Southern Cal game. In that game, Zaire completed nine of 20 passes for 170 yards. He ran six times for 18 yards including a touchdown. He also held for extra points and field goals for four games.

Zaire’s big moment last season came in the Music City Bowl against LSU He earned his first start and came up big. He rushed 22 times for 96 yards and a touchdown, completed 12 or 15 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. Most importantly, he led the game-winning field goal drive that gave the Fighting Irish 31-28 victory. He earned the Most Valuable Player award and more importantly, he developed momentum in his race to earn the starting quarterback job.

Throughout this past winter and spring, Brian Kelly did not name a starter between Zaire and Everett Golson. Then after the spring game, Golson announced he was transferring to another school. Within two weeks, Golson chose to enroll at Florida State and Malik Zaire became the starting quarterback for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

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Even though Zaire is inexperienced, he will be surrounded by a veteran offensive unit. The offensive line is led by left tackle and two-year starter Ronnie Stanley. Other veterans include two-year starter Nick Martin at center, two-year starter Steve Elmer at right guard. Either sophomores Quenton Nelson or Alex Bars will start at left guard and redshirt sophomore Mike McGlinchey will start at right tackle.

Zaire will have a plethora of wide receivers including fifth-year senior Amir Carlisle, senior Chris Brown, juniors William Fuller and Corey Robinson, red-shirt junior Torii Hunter, Jr., and sophomores Justin Brent and Corey Holmes. Junior Durham Smythe and sophomore Tyler Luatua will play tight end. Experienced juniors Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant will battle with senior C. J. Prosise at running back. Prosise will also see action at slot receiver where he played the last two years.

Zaire is a 6’0” and weighs 220 pounds. He is built like a running back and runs like one also. Even though he has a strong arm, he is not a polished passer like Everett Golson. He will be able to execute the run/pass option in which he will have to read second level defenders and make a decision to run or pass. He showed in the LSU game that he can run around end or keep the ball and run over defenders up the middle. With Notre Dame’s veteran running backs and talented offensive line, defenses will stack the line of scrimmage and dare Zaire to pass.

If he can develop accuracy on his short throws and develop a long passing game without throwing interceptions, it will be hard to stop the Irish offense. With the opener against Texas, the Fighting Irish do not have a “warm-up” game. They will have to be running on all offensive cylinders right off the bat and keep it going. With a veteran offensive line, a dynamic rushing attack, and a running quarterback who potentially can be a great passer in Zaire, this Fighting Irish offense could be special. If it is, by the end of the season, the Golden Dome may be shining brighter than ever.