Introducing Malik Zaire

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.

Some Malik Zaire highlights:

[youtube]3Nyd6LSCBtU[/youtube] [youtube]rTuhW1CZVdw[/youtube]

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  1. Southy,

    Just trying to make a point that education should be the priority in making these decisions. Appreciate your sarcasm though.

  2. If ND signs everyone on Wednesday that has given a verbal commitment they will finish with a top-5 recruiting class (possibly in the top 3). If they happen to get Vandergoes, Fitts, or Hollins it’s simply icing on the cake. I have a feeling they get at least one of them.

    Notre Dame’s graduation rate for its student athletes is #1 in the country.
    Notre Dame finished the 2012 College Football Season ranked #2 at 12-1.
    That’s what its all about – what a great opportunity for a young man looking to play major college football while preparing for life after football (and for most college football players, football is over after college). Very, very few college football players play a “down” of professional football – not one play. Therefore, for kids (and their parents) considering major college football programs, the education part of the equation should be the priority, and no one, no one, does it better than Notre Dame! Don’t believe me? Research it.

    1. Wait a minute, so you are saying that not every college football player will play in the NFL???? Next, you are going to tell us that water is wet.

  3. Why should we worry about Vanderdoes, he knows he’ll get a better education here at ND than Alabama, so if he makes Alabama his choice, than education is not a priority. Titles were already won, it does not mean he will earn one while he is there. And if his heart isn’t in to it to be here so be it, go where you think you can win championships and see if those championships help you when you need a good job.

  4. TJ,

    Is your source reliable? If so, that is indeed great news. I think Folston is a key member of this class. My friend “Duranko” doesn’t think he’ll be looked at at CB. He knows way more about ND football than I do so I’ll defer to his expertise. Having said that, this kid is a natural athlete and position flexibility isn’t a bad thing. I’m sure “Duranko” would agree with me about that.

    Thanks for the heads up, TJ!

    Go Irish!

  5. Folston’s coach said the he will “absolutely” sign with ND next week. Combination of academics, program, and networking is what sealed the deal for him…. I know a lot can happen from now until then, but this GREAT news! He plans to send his fax first thing in the morning, then go straight to the signing ceremony at his school… GO IRISH!!!

  6. Patrick,

    No one is emotionally distraught. That’s crazy! We’re just making FOOTBALL related observations here, not psychological or emotional ones. That’s not what this is about. Perhaps the one who is really upset is the one calling others distraught; how ironic!

    What’s comical, or rather, sad, is your either or thinking, Patrick. It’s intellectually lazy. Your whole point, every time, every single time, is a broken record of either or logic. EITHER we get recruits who want to be here OR we develop them. NO! We’re ND unless you’ve forgotten!!! We don’t need to settle for mediocre either or thinking. We should demand that our coaches BOTH recruit and secure the best talent AND develop that talent. If you can’t grasp that this is ND and that this is what ND should demand of its players, coaches, and staff, then do us all a favor and talk your simplistic, either or logic to a BC website where they’re happy recruiting whatever they can get and trying to then coach what little talent they get up. This ND football we’re talking about–NOT BC!!!

    If a kid can’t hack it at ND, that’s one thing. That seems to have been the case with Tee Shepard. If a kid is having doubts, that’s another. You recruit the hell out of those kids, because believe me, someone else is going to. Now, if a kid can’t be convinced ND is for him, then Patrick has a point. Let them walk. But only after both sides have exhausted all avenues of communications. Both sides should have no doubts left that ND isn’t the place for the young man.

    I guess recruiting services don’t take into account scheme, work ethic, up-side, discipline, etc. But, of course, Patrick knows more about recruiting than anybody else here and his judgments are pontifical. What a joke! He just wants to cover up for his overall lack of knowledge about recruiting by saying it’s not important to follow. More lazy thinking!

    TJ, you make some excellent observations. I really appreciate your injection of your own college story to drive home the point. It’s clear that you, sir, are a true ND fan and realize that ND need not settle for some cheap, lazy, excuse-making logic. WE ARE ND!

    1. Pot meet kettle lol.

      Tell me about your impressive college head coaching jobs and natonal recruiting stategy.

      I’d be surprised if you’ve ever held a football in your hand. Give me a break.

    2. Wait Rob, is your real name Bobby Bowden? No wait, Tom Osborne? Jimmy Johnson?

      Cut the crap and realize you know no more about my ND passion or football knowledge than the winning lottery numbers this week.

      Acting like you do makes you come off as ignorant, blind and actually, like a drum beating fan boy. Which is disappointing because I used to look forward to your posts.

      Now I realize when push comes to shove, you throw around words amd concepts like some of my ex girlfriends. Which is to say, irrationally amd based off emotion.

      1. No, Southy, it won’t be entertaining, if by entertaining you’re expecting an emotional rant from me. I won’t respond to someone who claims others are reacting emotionally yet they’re the only ones who really are upset. (Wow, en ex-girlfriend comparison, Pat, really?! Who’s the emotional one now?!). Patrick’s response is nothing but name-calling.

        I stand by my statement, Southy, that ND doesn’t need to settle for either a good 3 star player with character or a 5 star player with none. That’s not logical and is simply a false premise. ND should and must demand the best of both worlds, that is, high character student-athletes that are also among the best at their positions. These guys can be as easily coached-up, so to speak, as the 3 star player. You just have more upside to work with when you start with a better natural athlete. Simple as that.

        As you can see, Southy, there’s no need for name-calling or emotional rants. All I’ve done is single out Pat’s tendency for lazy either or thinking and name-calling. That’s not a personal attack on Patrick, by the way. In his insecurity he’s chosen to take it as such. So be it. Regardless, I won’t resort to desperate personal insults. (I’ll leave that for the trolls who come on our site)

        I respect Pat’s opinions. I think he does make some very valid points about getting too caught up on recruiting stats and the like. They’re certainly not perfect gauges of how hard a kid will try or whether or not they’ll succeed in college. But they’re still useful as guides. That’s all I’m saying.

        While I’m no Bobby Bowden, I dare say none of us here are. Yet we’re all knowledgeable football observers for many years. Many of us here have been loyal to ND for almost 40-50 years (or more in some cases!). I guess by Patrick’s criteria none of us should have an opinion on anything relating to ND football, himself excluded of course.

        Regardless, Go Irish!

  7. Lol.

    Again, I’m not going to lose sleep over a kid who wants another school. And neither should you. Face it, there are 18-25 kids that end up signing at ND. And it’s a hard sell. So unless you want mass defections after enrollment, you pick the kids who meet the programs goals and go after them hard. Failing to do so leads to kids transferring, which I can think of several who have left in the last year, who were 4-5 stars.

    TJ, I hate when people blindly follow a recruiting ranking and fail to understand scheme, work ethic, up side and discipline.

  8. I can’t stand when people say “We don’t need him if he doesn’t want to be here”. We need this young man in the worst way. If they can just get him to sign and let him get use to being at ND, chances are he will love it and want to stay. I know when I first went into the Navy, I didn’t think it was for me, and if I had the chance to get out, I would have. I’m sooooo glad I didn’t though! Once I got use to how things were, and got over the shock of being away from all that I knew, I LOVED IT! So to write this young man off now because of all that’s going on with him, would be a bad idea. Get him there and hopefully his view changes. If after awhile he feels it’s not for him, then let him go where he wants. The NC showed that we need all the talent we can get! GO IRISH!!!!

  9. Patrick,

    You’re largely right. But while imperfect, these rankings are fair barometers. Bottom line is this: keep on losing out on talented players for whatever reason, that weakens a team. I have no problem with letting a kid walk who isn’t fully committed to ND, as in the case of Aaron Lynch. But to lose out on kids over a foreign language requirement or some other trivial academic reason, like we did losing out on DE A. Muhammad to Miami and like we did last year as well with at least one 4 star CB recruit (whose name escapes me right now), well, that’s an altogether different story. Some geek pencil-pusher in the admissions office shouldn’t be costing us talent because he feels some recruit doesn’t have enough Latin, Aramaic, or some other dead language in his transcripts!

    Bottom line is this: any one who saw the NC game against Bama knows that ND needs more talent everywhere on the field. Not less talent; more talent and all over the field.

    Again, Patrick, stop with you’re either or thinking! One doesn’t have to pick between recruiting great talent and coaching it up. The great coaches do both! Weis was a great recruiter but couldn’t develop players. True enough. But Nick Saban can recruit the best talent and get the most out of that talent. Frankly, either or logic is just mentally lazy!

    1. I’m not talking about failing to pursue a recruit over a language recuirement. In fact, I’m not even talking about ND’s recruiting strategy.

      My comment is aimed more at fans who gett emotionally distraught over a recruiting ranking they don’t understand, choosing another school for reasons that arent explained, and weighing future success and outcomes on it for events that haven’t taken place lol.

      It’s comical. Knee-jerk. And short-sighted. And typically by spring ball they have forgotten about the recruit and are onto the recruiting star rankings.

  10. I dunno about some of you, but I won’t cry over a kid who doesn’t want to be at ND going somewhere else. That’s not good for team chemistry, winning or those 4th quarter “gut checks” it requires to win a title. I could care less if he’s a 6 Star player according to Rivals, Scout or whoever.

    What exceeds the ranking is the desire, will and fortitude to WANT TO BE THERE. If Folston wants Auburn, so be it. It’s America (at least for a little while longer) and he has the freedom to do so. I’d much rather take a kid who wants to be at ND.

    Why? Because recruiting rankings mean $hit. Player development is what counts. And I don’t see how you can develop a player who doesn’t want to be there . . .

    1. Exactly Patrick – if a kid doesn’t want to be here 100%, than would rather not have him. He needs to go to a school that he wants to be at –

  11. Rob, in all my research on message boards, pay sites, and other forums – the only thing that keeps coming up is Auburn making a real push to get him. He is no longer listing himself as a ND commit on Twitter – so there’s that:( Mom want’s him to go Auburn, Dad wants him at ND – we know how those battles end up. I would guess he is not coming to Notre Dame(but who am I?)

  12. reporting new complications with Folston recruiting. I hope we don’t lose another top recruit to some small academic issue. Does anyone know more about the Folston case or have an update? This guy is a key recruit on both sides of the ball!

  13. I find the fact that he is a “lefty” intriguing. 95% of the QB’s out there are righties and tend to roll out to the right. Opposing defenses get conditioned for this. A lefty could prove to be a nice change up.

    Not sure if ND has ever had a left-hander at QB before?
    If so, I would be interested to know who that might have been, and see how they did, or maybe have someone to compare to.

  14. I saw this guy play last season against my son’s high school. I am very excited about what he brings to ND: Not just a very strong arm, but he also made some very impressive touch passes. And as this article says, his stats would have been a lot more impressive in the passing game had he not been asked to run so much. I just wonder, with all the talent at qb, when we actually get to see the guy on the field.

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