Notre Dame football notebook: Golson ready for the good, the bad and the ugly

ERIC HANSEN
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND -- Three days before exiled quarterback Everett Golson was officially issued his chance for redemption by Notre Dame’s admissions office, Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly flew to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to plug back into the life of his past and future QB.

Immediately Kelly noticed the physical transformation of the player who wore down to 178 pounds on his 6-foot frame by the time he and the Irish faced eventual national champion Alabama last January in Miami Gardens, Fla.

“He’s physically more mature, probably over 200 pounds” Kelly said of the junior, who has two seasons of eligibility ahead of him after the university readmitted him on Friday following a season-long suspension for academic misconduct.

“He looked great, quite frankly,” Kelly continued. “Great physical condition. I think mentally is really where I saw a young man that understands what he’s coming back to. He even said that, ‘I know that there’s going to be a lot of people out there who are looking at me and not all of them are going to want me to succeed.’ ”

Kelly won’t simply be asking Golson to succeed in a vacuum but to lift others’ play as well, to be a leader.

“I think it just depends on his actions,” Kelly said on whether the rest of the team will accept Golson as a leader. “I think he’s set up to lead by the way he handled the situation. I think he’s gotten a lot of respect from his teammates in the manner that he handled himself, took full accountability and responsibility for his actions, didn’t point a finger.”

Golson’s first step in reintegrating with the team is spending some time with them, as a bystander, during the team’s six-day stay in New York for the Pinstripe Bowl later this month. Golson will have to play his own way and will stay with his girlfriend’s family, Kelly said.

He’ll begin classes in mid-January, and then will have the opportunity to win his job back in spring practice. This year’s starter, senior Tommy Rees, will have graduated.

“Not everybody likes a good story,” Kelly said of Golson’s comeback. “There will be some cynics out there. So I think we’re going to have to support him. But I think he’s prepared to handle all of those things.”

Hendrix ponders future

Could backup quarterback Andrew Hendrix follow former offensive coordinator Chuck Martin to Miami of Ohio, where Martin was named head coach on Dec. 3?

“It’s a possibility,” said John Rodenberg, Hendrix’s high school coach at perennial Ohio power Cincinnati Moeller. “But I would not term it a strong possibility. Andrew hasn’t ruled out returning to Notre Dame, if they’ll have him. He hasn’t had a chance to really sit down and talk to coach Kelly about his situation.”

Hendrix situation in 2013 has been serving as senior Tommy Rees’ backup. He saw cameos in eight games this season but hasn’t taken a meaningful snap since Rees suffered a neck injury in a 14-10 win over USC on Oct. 19. For the season, Hendrix has completed two of 14 passes for 47 yards, and has rushed for 26 yards on 16 carries.

If he does not return to ND for a fifth year, Hendrix could transfer without having to sit out a season because of the NCAA’s grad school exemption.

“He is realistic in that he knows he won’t be competing for a starting spot,” Rodenberg said. “But is it realistic that he has a chance to be the backup? That’s what he doesn’t know. There are a lot of questions and there are options other than Miami, but right now he just wants to focus on his final exams and then meet with coach Kelly when it’s the right time.”

Squibs

-- The Irish found two unexpected windows to practice during the upcoming finals week, and Kelly will wedge two short workouts in Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The Irish will condition and lift Monday and Wednesday and will have Friday off before resuming with a full practice session next Saturday.

-- Freshman tight end Durham Smythe is the young player who’s made waves during the bowl practices to date, Kelly said.

“Durham Smythe is going to be a really good player,” Kelly said of the 6-5, 235-pounder from Belton, Texas. “Outstanding ball skills. Going to continue to get bigger and stronger. I don’t want to overhype him, but he has some really unique ball skills for that position that he plays.”

EHansen@SBTinfo.com

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Twitter: @hansenNDInsider

Reinstated Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson will rejoin the team, as a spectator, during it's bowl trip to New York later this month.