It seemed that everyone knew this was going to happen, but no one expected when. Now that Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer has declared for the NFL Draft, what’s next?
Notre Dame’s 2016 offense was held together almost entirely by DeShone Kizer. After a dual quarterback system seemed to do more harm than good, Kizer became the primary play-caller for the Fighting Irish. Now, head coach Brian Kelly and Notre Dame needs to find a new man under center.
More now than ever, the Irish are wishing senior quarterback, Malik Zaire, who decided not to remain with Notre Dame for his final season. The former Music City Bowl MVP was the other half of that split quarterback job during the first few weeks of the 2016 season.
So, now it looks like the offense will be in the hands of Brandon Wimbush. The redshirt Sophomore quarterback played in just two games during his college career and has been used for his feet more than his arm. That doesn’t mean the quarterback isn’t the future of Notre Dame football. With three seasons of eligibility remaining, Wimbush can turn his Irish experience into a successful one.
Coming out of high school, Wimbush was a top 50 ESPN 300 recruit. This season, Wimbush was given a redshirt year for 2016. With Kizer and Zaire leaving, Wimbush is believed to be the next Notre Dame QB.
Wimbush is one of the most versatile players in the country. His combination of speed and arm strength makes him a threat during any play.
The New Jersey native has also been learning behind two of the best quarterbacks in college football for the last two years. Wimbush is already thought to one day exceed Kizer and Zaire’s talent.
Wimbush is also coming into an offense with a lot of returning talent. The QB will have one of the best receiving cores in the country back for another season. With the exception of Torii Hunter Jr. who hasn’t made his decision to return for his final season and Corey Holmes who has decided to transfer, Wimbush will have all the 2016 Irish receivers back next year.
This is a unit which finished with 3,051 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2016. Wimbush also has one of the most talented running backs in the power five returning. Josh Adams finished 2016 with 933 yards and five touchdowns. The dynamic back averaged 5.9 yards per carry last season, leading the Irish backfield by nearly 500 yards.
Wimbush also has one of the best offensive lineman returning for a fifth season. Mike McGlnchy was believed to be a first or second round draft pick in this year’s draft before deciding to return for his final season. The left tackle will be a big reason Wimbush is able to have early success in his Notre Dame career.
To simply put, Notre Dame’s offensive future is bright. Brian Kelly is one of the best developers of quarterbacks in the country. Year after year he produces NFL talent passers, who have successful college football careers.
With Wimbush leading the charge, Notre Dame is in capable hands. The athletic play caller has more than enough help on the field, and with all the returning playmakers, Wimbush should be able to step in and have success right out of the gate.
Notre Dame’s future is bright. 2016 was a disappointing and concerning year, but one that brings learning to everyone who players through it. The Irish may have lost their 2017 captain, but a new star is ready to lead this team to victory.