Last year Notre Dame didn’t land its quarterback until the eve of early enrollees reporting to campus in January. This year, the Brian Kelly and Notre Dame were able to secure this class’s signa caller in before the calendar turned to April with the weekend commitment of Malik Zaire – the 4th commitment to come out this weekend’s junior day.
Notre Dame’s junior day this weekend cannot be labeled anything other than a smashing success after the Irish picked up Zaire’s commitment giving them an elite quarterback early in the recruiting cycle – an advantage they didn’t have a season ago.
Heading into the weekend Zaire held offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Nebraska, Boston College, and Wisconsin among others. An offer list like that makes it easy to see why Zaire is rated a 4-star prospect by Rivals, Scout, and 247 Sports and is on ESPN’s 150 Watch List heading into his senior season at Archbishop Alter HS in Dayton, Ohio.
Zaire is a dual threat quarterback in the same mold as Everett Golson although Notre Dame’s latest quarterback addition is a lefty. Like Golson though, he is more of a pocket passer with the ability to run. What’s great to see in his game (and you can see some highlights at the end of this post) is that Zaire doesn’t look to run first – his eyes are always downfield looking for someone to get open. Golson showed this same very desirable trait for such an athletic quarterback coming out of high school as well.
This commitment is huge for Notre Dame a couple of reasons. First off, landing an elite quarterback this early in the recruiting process is a huge plus as it builds momentum and makes it much easier for the Irish staff to sell Notre Dame to offensive skill position players – especially when you consider Notre Dame landed the #1 quarterback in the country last year. Between Zaire and Gunner Kiel Notre Dame can boast a one, two recruiting punch at quarterback from the past two classes that not many other schools can match.
Secondly, Kelly was able to go into Ohio and pull away one of Urban Meyer and Ohio State’s top prospects at quarterback. With Meyer bringing his highly successful spread offense with him to Ohio State in the off-season, a betting man would have probably put money on Zaire ending up in Columbus. Such is not the case though with Kelly and staff going head to head with Meyer and coming out on top.
Zaire’s commitment also completes a weekend that saw Notre Dame add massive tackle prospect Mike McGlinchey out of Philadelphia, versatile offensive lineman Hunter Bivin out of Kentucky, and a third talented offensive lineman in Colin McGovern. Not a bad 48 hours for the Notre Dame recruiting class of 2013.
Notre Dame continues to build a strong midwest footprint with the addition of Zaire giving Notre Dame 6 commitments out of the Midwest out of a class the includes only one non Midwestern commitment at this time. McGlinchey is the only commitment at this point not from the Midwest. The rest of the other three commitments from this weekend along with the three previously commitment recruits – wide receiver James Onuwalu, offensive lineman Steve Elmer, and defensive end Jacob Matusaka all hail from the area.