Irish QB Wimbush faces challenge of unseating Kizer, Zaire
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush knows he faces a challenge in trying to beat out DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire for the starter's job.
The freshman from Teaneck, New Jersey, also is aware he's in a better position than Kizer was a year ago, when Kizer came off the bench after Zaire was injured and led the Fighting Irish to 10 victories. So Wimbush is working hard to make sure he's ready.
''I prepare every day as if I'm going to be the starter. That's the only way I can go about my business,'' he said. ''I can control only what I can control.''
Coach Brian Kelly said in February he planned to redshirt Wimbush, but decided to let him compete with Kizer and Zaire. Kelly also wanted to redshirt Wimbush last season, but those plans changed after Everett Golson transferred to Florida State and Zaire broke his ankle in the second game.
Wimbush played against Massachusetts and Pittsburgh, completing 3 of 5 passes for 17 yards against the Minutemen while rushing for 92 yards on four carries, including a 58-yard touchdown run. Against Pittsburgh, he ran for four yards on three carries and was replaced by Kizer after he fumbled and the Panthers returned it 32 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 42-30.
Kelly said in announcing the three-man competition on March 15 that Wimbush ''has arguably the best arm on the team and he's extremely fast.'' Despite that, Kelly said last week Wimbush is not getting as many reps with the first team as Zaire and Kizer, but he's getting enough work to ''continue to work his craft and get better.''
''I think Brandon has got a much better sense of the offense and a lot more confidence in what he is doing,'' Kelly said.
Wimbush concedes he doesn't know the offense as well as the other two quarterbacks.
''Experience is huge, especially at this level,'' he said. ''I have to prove myself and what I can do and that I know the offense. I have to build a trust between myself and the coaching staff.''
Wimbush said Kizer was a good role model. Kizer didn't get as much opportunity as Wimbush is receiving, but kept working despite thinking he'd be the third-string quarterback.
''I saw how he prepared to be the starter, especially even as a third-string, so I take into that mind-set and I kind of follow his footsteps in how he went about his business,'' Wimbush said. ''Hopefully, I'll have the same opportunity in the next couple of years to show my abilities.''
The biggest challenge for Wimbush last season was adjusting to the speed and learning to read coverage.
''I wasn't doing too much of that in high school,'' he said
If Wimbush doesn't win the starting job, he said he'd be OK being redshirted.
''It would give me another year to learn the offense to a point where I'm comfortable with everything, so redshirting is obviously not a bad choice for me as a second-year quarterback,'' he said.