Malik Zaire: new Notre Dame QB arrives with authority

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malik zaire

(Update: NFL Draft decisions for Notre Dame’s Sheldon Day, Ronnie Stanley)

Newly minted starting quarterback Malik Zaire won both the bowl game and the postgame press conference. Zaire and company started this bowl season’s hottest trend, beating up on the big bad SEC West. In splitting time with Everett Golson, Zaire completed 12-15 passes for 96 yards, no interceptions, one touchdown. He also had 96 yards rushing on 22 carries, and a TD.

He’s also surrounded by tons of future NFL talent next year, so the sky is the limit for him in 2015.

After the game, Zaire had a couple of great one-liners.

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“It was a big game, it’s not like we were playing you know, a Community College,” Zaire said of facing the SEC traditional power.

The Tigers brought the 4th ranked pass defense in the nation and the #1 total defense in the SEC to Nashville with them. They also came in #2 in the SEC in both scoring and passing defense.

Malik Zaire, the first left-handed starting quarterback in Notre Dame history, found a way to get it done. As 7.5 point underdogs, no one really expected ND to win. This led to a cheesy, cliche question from a reporter who asked Zaire to compare himself to “Rudy.”

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Asked if this was his “Rudy” moment Zaire responded, “Rudy was only a one-hit wonder, wasn’t he?”

You know that question obviously came from someone who had not watched a single ND game all season, and probably works for an outlet that provides only superficial coverage at best.

Zaire now potentially leads a Fighting Irish team that should get a top 15 preseason ranking.

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Although Malik was obscure in 2014, he has everybody’s attention in 2015. In his recruiting class, Zaire was ranked #3 by Rivals.com in the dual threat QB category. Scout.com ranked him the 14th best signal caller in his class, and he was overall a consensus top 200 recruit nationally. He hails from Kettering, Ohio.

Looking ahead to next season Zaire will have lots of talent coming back in his supporting cast. The Admiral, David Robinson’s son, Corey Robinson is a blossoming star at wide receiver. Will Fuller and Tarean Folston are “go-to” type players at the offensive skill positions. Both members of “the money team,” as they call themselves.

Another famous offspring, Torii Hunter Jr. could progress in 2015 to the point that he becomes more relevant on the depth chart.

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The Irish do lose Ben Koyack, one of the best blocking tight ends in college football, so that will hurt the offense. Likewise with OT NFL super-prospect Ronnie Stanley, if he declares early for the NFL Draft. However, the defense will return quite a few starters. The unit will be led by OLB Jaylon Smith, the team’s best overall player and the one with the most NFL potential.

Paul M. Banks owns, operates and writes The Sports Bank.net ,which is partners with Fox Sports. Read his feature stories in the Chicago Tribune RedEye edition. Listen to him on KOZN 1620 The Zone. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks). His work has been featured in hundreds of media outlets including The Washington Post and ESPN 2

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