FOOTBALL

Former Notre Dame QB Everett Golson transfers to Florida State

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Doak Campbell Stadium hasn’t seen the last of Everett Golson.

Its 82,300 seats, enough to fit nearly half the population of Tallahassee, Fla., surrounded Notre Dame’s embroiled senior quarterback on Oct. 18, 2014, witnesses to his 313 passing yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in a heartbreaking 31-27 defeat to undefeated Florida State. That night, the 6-foot, 200-pound quarterback fell one controversial penalty short of a 19th consecutive regular season victory, a streak sandwiched around a national championship defeat and a year-long suspension.

After it was over, Golson shook hands with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, then cut through the muggy air and off the field with a police officer flanked on one side and an assistant coach on the other.

He probably didn’t know it at the time, but the handshake between quarterbacks wasn’t just a common courtesy, a show of respect between two collegiate giants.

It was a sign of things to come — of present, and future.

It was the passing of the Seminole torch.

Golson made the news official on Tuesday, two days after he graduated from Notre Dame, when the former Irish signal caller signed the grant-in-aid paperwork to play his final season of eligibility at Florida State.

"This past weekend has been a defining moment in my life as I am proud to say I am a graduate of the University of Notre Dame," Golson said in a statement to FOX Sports. "The support I've received there over the past four years has helped strengthen my integrity, wisdom and character. I would like to thank all of the coaches who spent time speaking with me these past few weeks and considered adding me to their football programs. Their interest and sincerity was truly humbling.

"After much thought and careful consideration, I will utilize my fifth year of eligibility to join the Florida State University Seminoles. To coach Jimbo Fisher, the Florida State football team, staff, alumni and fans, thank you for allowing me to become part of the Seminoles family. I can't wait to get started."

A native of Myrtle Beach, S.C., Golson started 23 games at Notre Dame, passing for 5,850 yards and 41 touchdowns. He led the Irish to a 12-0 start and a berth in the National Championship Game in 2012, before missing the entire 2013 season after leaving the school because of an academic suspension.

Last season, Golson started 12 games and passed for 3,445 yards with 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He was benched in favor of sophomore quarterback Malik Zaire in the team's Music City Bowl victory over LSU.

Following a spring in which he competed alongside Zaire in a quarterback competition and repeatedly declined to speak with the media, Golson announced his intentions to transfer on May 7.

"I will have no future comment at this time and ask that you respect my time as I figure out this life changing moment,” Golson said in a statement. “God has a plan for each of us and I ask for your prayers as I move forward in this new journey in my life."

The graduate student quarterback reportedly took visits to Florida State, Florida and Georgia last week, and left an impression on Seminole head coach Jimbo Fisher in the process.

"We're negotiating," Fisher said during the Atlantic Coast Conference spring meetings. "He's a great young man. I really enjoyed getting to know him. Good player. (He) Played really good against us."

With the addition of Golson, Florida State has five scholarship quarterbacks on its roster. Redshirt junior Sean Maguire, who has started one game in his career, exited the spring as the favorite to win the job.

In two seasons spent largely sitting behind Winston, Maguire passed for a total of 455 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions. The 6-3, 224-pound quarterback started one game last season, completing 21 of 39 passes for 304 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the Seminoles' 23-17 overtime victory over Clemson.

Fisher emphasized last week that even if Golson chose Florida State, he would not be named the immediate starter.

“It’s an open competition and I communicate with everybody,” Fisher said. “We’re going to do what gives us the best chance to be successful.”

Four quarterbacks that have been coached by Fisher — JaMarcus Russell in 2007, Christian Ponder in 2011, E.J. Manuel in 2013 and Winston in 2015 — were selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, with both Russell and Winston being taken first overall.

Fisher has also enjoyed team success at Florida State, where his Seminoles secured a national championship in 2014 and have lost just one game in the last two seasons.

That history of success, as well as the promise of a new beginning, led Golson back to Doak Campbell Stadium and a final run at Florida State.

Noles I see.... Congrats @Everett_Golson5

— Jarron Jones™ (@Who_GotJones94) May 19, 2015//

My little bro is going to compete his butt off in Tally. You will always be IRISH! #FsuStillSucksThough#GoIrishpic.twitter.com/zTnktw3fv9

— lOUIS NIX III (@1irishchocolate) May 19, 2015//

Good luck and congrats to @Everett_Golson5 on making a tough, yet thorough decision for HIMSELF. All the faith in the world in you brother!

— Kyle C. Brindza (@kylebrindza) May 19, 2015//

Aight ev!

— DaVaris Daniels (@SincerelyToot) May 19, 2015//

@Everett_Golson5 everett, congrats on your decision. We are super proud of you and happy to call you an alumnus! You gotta a fan here!

— Tim Brown (@81TimBrown) May 19, 2015//

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, right, greets Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson after Florida State won 31-27 in an NCAA college football game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
Everett Golson leaves the field following Notre Dame's 31-27 loss to Florida State Saturday night. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)