He stands 6’1 and weighs in at 196 pounds, and while he may not be intimidating college defenses anytime soon with his physique, Malik Zaire soon may be with be with his game.
He has already been labeled as a dual-threat quarterback and comparisons to Clemson’s QB Tahj Boyd and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks have been common. He does a very good job of staying poised in the pocket, and always has his eyes down field ready to find his receivers. The lefty quarterback can sling the ball into tight spaces with very good accuracy, and can be a threat to run the ball, if all else fails. If one didn’t follow the Irish program very closely, they might assume we were talking about Notre Dame first year starter, Everett Golson, but we obviously are not (Golson is right handed).
Malik Zaire would be the young man we are speaking of, a Senior out of Archbishop Alter High School, in Kettering, Ohio. He was one of 25 kids invited to the “Elite 11” camp that ESPN put on, and ended up making the final 11, and finished strong, ranking as the #7 QB prospect in the contest. Recruiting expert for ESPN, Tom Luginbill, loved the kid and had this to say about the Zaire –
“”If he was two or three inches taller, he might be one of most highly recruited kids in this class. His physical tools are what you’re looking for. He’s smart, with a live arm and is extremely athletic. He’s a good runner when things break down, though he might need to be in the shotgun to allow him to see the field and give him room to move.”
In 2012 Zaire threw 21 touchdowns, and had just 4 interceptions, while throwing for over 1600 yards. He led his team to a 8-1-1 record, before losing to Shawnee in the first round of the Ohio State Division III Boys playoff. Now before you get too worried about him only throwing for 1600 yards, Zaire’s school asked him to run the ball almost as much as they asked him to throw it. This was very evident in his season stat’s for 2012, as he ran for almost a 1000 yards, and had 9 rushing touchdowns. He can do both, but chances are that Coach Kelly will utilize him more in the role of a true passer, and run only if needed. Since Malik is an early enrollee, he will get early exposure to the Irish offense and is very excited about that opportunity – In an interview with the South Bend Tribune, Zaire stated
“Committing to Notre Dame gave me the incentive to start early because there were a lot of opportunities there, I felt,” Zaire said in December. “Going to Notre Dame definitely pushed me toward early enrolling.”
Zaire pushed himself through a rigorous final semester at Archbishop Alter in Kettering, Ohio, in order to get himself some reps at quarterback during spring practice.
“Oh my goodness, it was stressful from beginning to end trying to get out of there early,” Zaire said. “I figured it will pay off when I move in.”
We are not trying to get ahead of ourselves by showering Zaire with accolades that have not been earned yet, but he truly does possess all of the tools from the head, to the arm, and legs, that should allow him the chance at being a very good, to excellent quarterback. Just like every other recruit that will be sending in their National Letter of Intent on February 6th, he has to prove it on the field, and do it consistently. You do have to love a kid that is willing to play within a system, and run it the way a coach requires, because it benefits the team though.
Based on the multiple film sessions we viewed, and other scouting analysis we read, we have a feeling that he could be battling for the starting position by the end of 2014, or possibly be your starting quarterback by the time your Irish hit the field for the first time in 2015. We understand that this is a bold statement, but one that easier to stand by, if you truly take the time to educate yourself on this young man. A lot of this will obviously depend on the growth and health of the two young men in front of him, in Kiel and Golson. At the very least, Zaire is the type of kid that will push those two to be even better, and work even harder.
With offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin(amongst others) the Irish were not the only ones to see something special in him. He committed to Notre Dame knowing full well that he would have to compete with Golson and Kiel to see the field, and that starting for the Irish is far from a guarantee. With these three kids behind center for the foreseeable future, for the first time in awhile, the Irish have some quality depth at the quarterback position. With Hendrix, Rees, Kiel, and Golson all vying for playing time in 2013, chances are good that Zaire will be redshirted this year, which would make the most sense. Although he is very comfortable with the style of offense that Notre Dame currently runs, an extra year to get acclimated is always a good thing.