Christopher Smith

Golson Returns To Practice For Notre Dame

Created on Mar. 03, 2014 1:55 PM EST

After enduring a semester banished from Notre Dame due to an academic violation related to some sort of cheating on a test, quarterback Everett Golson returned to practice for the Fighting Irish on Monday.

"I want to say surreal in a sense," Golson said of practicing, according to "I felt accomplished for a split moment, that I went through what I went through and now I'm back and I'm moving forward now and still continuing the process of trying to grind and be better."

Golson, who helped Notre Dame reach the national championship game against Alabama after the 2012-13 season, missed last season, which he spent working with noted quarterback coach George Whitfield Jr. in San Diego. Senior Tommy Rees led the Fighting Irish to a 9-4 record, including a Pinstripe Bowl win.

Golson threw for more than 2,400 yards as a redshirt freshman and will enter the fall with two years of eligibility remaining.

Coach Brian Kelly is giving lip service to a quarterback competition with redshirt freshman Malik Zaire, a highly-regarded member of the 2013 class, but the job is Golson's. The athletic 6-foot-1 quarterback reportedly has added 15 pounds of muscle to his frame, which would put him at 200 pounds. Whitfield Jr. is renowned for innovative footwork and accuracy drills, and Golson's in a unique position. Not many starting quarterbacks on BCS bowl teams take a healthy year off.

According to Kelly, Golson is better prepared to translate his physical ability through better decision-making.

"In some of the film study I had with [Golson], there was definitely a conceptual awareness that he had lacked at some times with the passing game," Kelly said, according to ESPN. "He clearly has that. It's an easier conversation for him. If I could give you the best way to explain it, it would be when he would explain his progression, it might take him 10 seconds. Well, you've got 2.6 seconds to throw the ball. Now he's precise in his communication."

Golson and Zaire, the only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, will also contend with adjusting to a new coordinator, as Mike Denbrock was promoted to replace Chuck Martin, now coach at Miami (Ohio).

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