When starting Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson was dismissed from the team for the entire 2013 football season due to poor academic judgment, his future became as ungraspable as the unorthodox way Golson handles the laces of a football. Would Everett transfer? Would he wait out his suspension at a local community college in his native South Carolina for the semester and make a triumphant return?
The answer was none of the above. Golson utilized the free semester by hiring private quarterback guru George Whitfield, the same quarterback coach who worked with Texas A&M superstar Johnny Manziel before Johnny Football became a household name. Whitfield refined Golson’s footwork and throwing motion – he now employs the laces when releasing – and helped him add 17 pounds of muscle to his formerly lanky frame. While Irish fans will celebrate the return of a seasoned, well-coached passer, one astute observer posed an interesting question to CBS Sports columnist Bruce Feldman who had spent time with Golson as he trained: who pays for such tutelage?
Feldman reported the cost of such instruction is in the neighborhood of $7,500-$8,000 and is attributed to the athlete himself.
“At this point, I don’t know if it’s politically correct to say it like this, but it’s a business decision for me,” Golson stated. “I’m hoping that it’ll pay off in the future.”
A business decision?
Irish recruitniks will recognize such phrasing from former No. 1 high school quarterback commitment Jimmy Clausen, who selected Notre Dame in large part to former head coach Charlie Weis’ NFL pedigree and connections rather than any emotional attachment to the university.
Everett Golson in the NFL?
Could a six foot signal caller rated as a 3-star recruit out of high school instead of a 4-star simply due to a lack of size actually play football on Sundays? The notion of a spread, dual-threat quarterback playing in the NFL – a source of comic fodder for scouts a mere decade ago – has transitioned from absurdity to vogue as quickly as an up-tempo offense rushes to the line of scrimmage.
The path to the NFL for scrambling quarterbacks has been blazed by the successes of emerging stars like Colin Kaepernick of San Francisco, Cam Newton from the Carolina Panthers, and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, all of whom are still in the NFL playoffs. Such a list doesn’t even include other scrambling threats like Robert Griffin III, Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel.
And the infiltration of rushing quarterbacks is only beginning.
Louisville signal caller and dual-threat Teddy Bridgewater is being discussed as a potential first overall pick to the Houston Texas. Several mock drafts have former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel ending up as a first round draft choice of the Cleveland Browns, and UCLA Bruin Brett Hundley was also considered a likely first round selection before his decision to stay for his junior year. Not even height – a former impenetrable glass ceiling – seems to be an obstacle on the path to the NFL, with Russell Wilson listed at 5’11” and Manziel generously listed as 6’1”.
The mad dash to draft a dual-threat is being bolstered by an invasion of college coaches within the NFL ranks. Former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly has joined the likes of Jim Harbaugh, Pete Carroll, Doug Marone and, most recently, Bill O’Brien, as college coaches who have entered the NFL, and that’s just the tipping point. Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano brought in former Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton to assist star quarterback Andrew Luck in his development, and recently hired Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith reeled in former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford as his offensive coordinator, marking Tedford’s first stint coaching within the professional ranks.
As college philosophies and quarterbacks become more chic to the NFL, so will the coaches. Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops has been mentioned as a potential candidate for the recently vacated Cleveland Browns position, as has Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin and Auburn head man Gus Malzahn. Stanford head coach David Shaw was mentioned in NFL circles until he expressed a desire to stay in Palo Alto, as was Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin until signing a contract extension that will keep him in College Station for the foreseeable future. Even Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly expressed interest in the NFL, accepting an interview with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013.
Was Everett Golson’s “business decision” a wise one? Johnny Manziel would likely think so, having told media outlets last January that he sees a bit of himself in the Fighting Irish quarterback.
“Me being a little more mobile [helps] create some stuff, and I feel like Everett in the same sense can do some of that – I feel like he can escape when he needs to and make the throws when he needs to.”
Whether or not Golson can live up to Manziel’s comparison remains to be seen, but the opportunities for Everett in 2014 are as golden as the helmet he will once again wear next fall.
Scott Janssen is a blogger for the Huffington Post and has authored several nationally-featured articles, as well as appeared on MSNBC as a sports contributor. In his spare time he takes his NCAA Football ’13 online dynasty way too seriously and alienates those around him by discussing football 24 hours a day. Scott can be reached at email@example.com