Florida's McElwain, Georgia's Richt downplay interest in Everett Golson

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Everett Golson was the elephant in the room.

Or rather, on the call.

Golson — the 6-foot, 200-pound quarterback who started 23 games at Notre Dame from 2012 to 2014 — was a popular topic of conversation on the SEC coaches teleconference on Wednesday, as the former Irish standout continues his unofficial recruitment tour in search of a new home for a one-season stay.

Florida first-year head coach Jim McElwain, who met with Golson on Tuesday according to numerous media reports, appropriately appeared first on the call, setting the tone with an artfully neutral non-answer.

“Per NCAA rules, he’s a prospective student-athlete, so I can’t really comment on that part,” McElwain said of Golson. “The one thing that we are doing, however, and it’s regardless of what position it is, we’re always looking to help the organization fill holes where needed. Obviously, him mentioning us is something that’s exciting.

“At the same time, we’re doing it at a lot of different spots. Heading into this year, it’s one of those things that keeps evolving as we go. There’s some really good opportunities.”

Certainly, McElwain made it clear that Florida is in the market for graduate school transfers, as long as those transfers fill a recognizable need on the Gators’ roster.

And at quarterback the need is verging on desperation. Graduate student Jeff Driskel chose in January to play out his final season of eligibility at Louisiana Tech, and already has 15 spring practices under his belt with coach Skip Holtz. McElwain also confirmed Wednesday that junior Skyler Mornhinweg has transferred to Columbia. In fact, five Florida quarterbacks have transferred out of the program since Jan. 2013.

After an unconvincing spring that saw Will Grier and Treon Harris fail to make any significant strides in the team's two-headed quarterback competition, McElwain acknowledged a weakness under center.

“We’re right now with two scholarship quarterbacks,” McElwain said. “Moving forward, as you guys all know, at that position, especially in this league now, you need to have some depth. So we’re constantly looking at that spot as well as some other spots to try to make sure we get some needed bodies in those areas.”

The call made its next stop in Athens, Ga., where Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs are hosting Golson on Wednesday, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

And Richt, though he also declined to comment directly on Golson, noted that he would prefer to have more depth at the quarterback position than what the Bulldogs possessed heading out of the spring.

“We’ve got three on scholarship. I think I’d always feel better with four or five on scholarship, quite frankly, just as a normal practice,” Richt said. “But we’re just in a year that we have three. We hope that everybody stays healthy. I think we’ve got some outstanding ball players.”

Those three — Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Jacob Park — combine for a grand total of zero starts at Georgia, possessing both a wealth of potential and a glaring absence of in-game experience. And while Richt has asserted confidence in all three of his quarterbacks, there was little separation made throughout a hotly contested spring.

“Right this minute, we came out of spring still feeling like every one of them had a chance to be ‘the guy,’” Richt said. “We have our exit meetings, and we talk to every player about the things they need to improve on to put yourself in a better position to win a job. I really believe what these guys do between the end of spring and the beginning of fall camp is going to have a lot to do with who wins this job.

“We’re just counting on our guys to have a great summer and be ready to compete.”

Could Golson potentially jam a stick into the spokes of Georgia’s three-man race? The experienced quarterback, who passed for 5,850 yards and 41 touchdowns in his 25-game career at Notre Dame, has a noted history with Georgia, as the Bulldogs offered Golson a scholarship out of high school in Myrtle Beach, S.C., before he eventually picked Notre Dame.

But while his quarterback situation is unsettled, Richt also emphasized the benefits of leaning on a signal caller who has developed in the program throughout a number of years, rather than a 12- to 15-game rental.

“When you know what your quarterback can do, you can kind of build the rest of your offensive system around him,” Richt said. “Knowing who that guy is and what his skill sets are, I think, is really crucial.”

Of course, even if Golson and Florida or Georgia (or Alabama, for that matter) have mutual interest, there is still no guarantee that a marriage will inevitably be made. SEC rules state that no graduate student with a history of disciplinary action, such as the action Golson faced during his academic-related suspension in 2013, can transfer into an SEC school.

Golson would need to receive a waiver from the SEC office to allow him to bypass that rule and enroll at an SEC institution.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who told The State on Wednesday that the Gamecocks are not in the running for in-state legacy Golson, believes that either the rule must change, or the rest of college football needs to agree on a happy medium.

“I just wish we all had the same rules, but that’s just my opinion,” Spurrier said.

mvorel@ndinsider.com

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Twitter: @mikevorel

Former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson's penchant for turnovers, like this one against Arizona State last November, didn't keep Las Vegas from being bullish on the newest Florida State Seminole. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)