The Notre Dame Fighting Irish marched through an undefeated regular season in 2012 before falling in the BCS National Championship to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Head coach Brian Kelly will try and get his team back to the mountain top next season, and he will logically ride Everett Golson at quarterback like he did last year, but there’s no guarantee he will stay there. If the Irish get involved in a quarterback race, Andrew Hendrix could be the wild card.
Golson will be handed the starting job this spring as Notre Dame looks for him to continue his maturation in Kelly’s offensive system. He continued to improve as he gained more experience during his redshirt freshman season and the hope is that experience will turn into a dominant sophomore campaign. His high ceiling and consistent improvement has earned him the inside track as the quarterback of the future.
Behind him is the experienced Tommy Rees, who has started 16 games at Notre Dame. Issues off the field cost Rees the starting job to Golson before the 2012 season, but he was still a vital part of the undefeated run, coming in and sparking three rallies for the Irish over the course of the season and even starting a pair of games when Golson was dinged up.
Hendrix trails both Golson and Rees in terms of experience, but the redshirt junior has impressive arm strength, size and speed that could earn him some playing time this season. With Gunner Kiel’s decision to transfer, it sets Hendrix up nicely as the No. 3 quarterback this spring.
However, a strong showing from Hendrix, coupled with some struggles or injuries ahead of him, and the No. 3 could become the No. 1 in an instant, especially with a quarterback-fickle coach like Brian Kelly. It wouldn’t be the craziest thing to happen if Hendrix found a significant role in 2013.
If Hendrix doesn’t find the field next fall, he could follow the example of former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist and transfer for his senior season. Hendrix is on track to graduate next summer, so he would not be forced to sit out a season and could use his final year of eligibility in 2014 to start somewhere else.
Whether he ends up as a starter this season or playing somewhere else in 2014, Andrew Hendrix is a wild card in the Notre Dame quarterback race. How it turns out will start to clear up this spring but we won’t know how it will all turn out until it happens.