Notre Dame QB Deshone Kizer a Heisman Candidate?

Deshone Kizer - Notre Dame QB
Photo: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Kelly hasn’t seen enough from Deshone Kizer to name him the starting quarterback over Malik Zaire for the 2016 Fighting Irish.’s Daniel Jeremiah, on the other hand, has seen enough from Kizer to project him to be the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner.

In a column on fearless predictions for the 2016 college football season, Jeremiah predicted that the junior quarterback will win the Heisman Trophy in 2016.

DeShone Kizer hasn’t even won the full-time starting QB gig for the Irish but that won’t stop me from making this bold prediction — Kizer will win the Heisman Trophy this season. He will eventually take over as the full-time player at the position and he will post monster numbers for the Irish. The opener against Texas on a Sunday night is the perfect location to launch his campaign. It’s going to happen. Get ready.

Jeremiah’s prediction could be classified as body as well as fearless given Kizer and Zaire will both play against Texas next weekend in the season opener.  How Brian Kelly intends on using both quarterbacks remains to be seen, but he has said repeatedly over the last couple weeks that he will play them both against the Longhorns.

Jeremiah’s prediction may not have been that bold had Kizer been named a full time starter by Kelly.  As a sophomore last year, Kizer threw 21 touchdowns to 10 interceptions and ran for another 10 touchdowns on the ground.  While Kizer benefited from a deep, talented, and experienced wide receiving corps, he still showed much more as a sophomore than anyone could have imagine when Zaire laid on the field in Charlottesville last September with a broken ankle.

If Kizer were to become a full-time starter for Notre Dame early in the season, a run at the Heisman is certainly within the realm of possibility for him.  Notre Dame has a favorable schedule and Kizer has all of the tools necessary to put up some gaudy statistics – especially if he is able to cut down on his turnovers and sacks.  As a sophomore Kizer forced throws at times and took unnecessary sacks that killed drives.

Standing in Kizer’s way, however, is senior Malik Zaire.  While Kizer has the better “measurables”, Zaire might just have the better intangibles.  In a very limited body of work, Zaire has yet to turn the ball over in three starts for the Irish.  Kizer on the other hand had at least one turnover in eight of his 11 starts last fall.

Notre Dame’s young wide receivers could also make a run at the Heisman for either Notre Dame quarterback should they assume a full time role difficult.  The only wide receiver on the roster in 2016 with more than one career reception is Torii Hunter.

Working in the favor of Kizer – or even Zaire should he become a full time starter – is an offensive line that Pro Football Focus rated as the best in all of college football for 2016.  The Irish line, even with three new starters, is considered to be an elite unit again this year and should give both quarterbacks plenty of time to throw the football.  Notre Dame’s stable of running backs will also give the Notre Dame quarterbacks some favorable match-ups downfield.

Should either QB earn a full time role and lead the Irish to the College Football Playoffs, an appearance in New York City in December for the Heisman presentation wouldn’t be shocking.  For now though a two headed monster at quarterback and some question marks that have yet to be answered in the wide receiving corps would seem to make such a run unlikely.

As we saw last year, however, what looks likely in August is rarely still the case in October and November.

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  1. I don’t care who starts, the winning QB will win. Simple, one guy isn’t getting it done, next man in. Kizer for Heisman, maybe next year, a bit of stretch. The talent is there, one more year on the receivers thou. Beat Texas, go Irish! ♣

  2. I completely agree with Ray above…. I’ve said that Tim Tebow was the greatest college QB i’ve ever seen, but I knew he wouldn’t be able to play on Sundays. I think Malik is a better fit for the college game and should start on this team. Kizer turns it over too much and people forget about that.

  3. Zaire should start. I have heard many say that Kizer has more upside, which is basically based on his height. Well, Zaire has more upside as a college QB based on his greater ability to make plays with his legs on a consistent basis. Plus no turnovers. Even if someone says in just 3 games, well Kizer turned it over a lot after 3 games. Kizer does has great pro potential but Zaire has greater college potential.

  4. Kizer must take total command on each and every play for Him to be considered a Heisman hopeful. Personally I believe Javon”von” McKinney will be the “Man” and explode on the scene in the Michigan St. game! Notre Dame 31-21 over the horns!

  5. Too early to know “the right call” at QB.
    Both Zaire and Kizer seem like good choices based on their game performances and, if you believe BK, also based on their Spring and Summer practices.

    I’m also sure BK feels playing both is not detrimental to the team, or he’d not be risking what is detrimental to his own future, an underperforming team that will have to rely on a high-scoring offense to win ten or more. It will be interesting how and how long he goes with the two QB arrangement, and how he utilizes each QB’s strengths without being too predictable, although both seem most capable of doing all BK’s O’ calls for them to do. And there’s no substitute for live game experience if injury occurs. Stay tuned.

  6. Kelly created this box for himself over the starting QB. Kizer was the proven guy and many pro scouts feel that Kizer will play on Sunday. Kelly’s judgement is open to question and his desire to not disappoint Zaire has led to what could be detrimental to the team. Had he made the right call in the spring Zaire could have chosen to transfer allowing Wimbush to move up.

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