SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Calling his quarterback situation an "embarrassment of riches," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly raved about Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer at his news conference to open spring football Tuesday, saying he can see the position battle carrying all the way into the season.
"If there is one kind of underlying fact about this spring, all eyes would be on the quarterback position," Kelly said one day before the Fighting Irish open spring practice. "I think that's an understatement. We've got really three outstanding quarterbacks. Obviously DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire are easy names to throw around, but we really like Brandon Wimbush as well.
"Brandon will get an opportunity to compete. I know I've talked during the year about the possibility of redshirting, but as we've gotten the chance to assess his situation, we want to give him a chance to compete as well. We think he's extremely talented, so he'll be given the opportunity to compete as well and have the chance to break through as well."
Zaire entered 2015 as the starter before breaking his right ankle in the second game of the season. Kizer impressed after replacing Zaire, throwing for 2,884 yards with 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while going 8-3 as a starter. Kizer added 520 rushing yards and 10 more touchdowns on the ground.
Kelly said that Zaire is full-go this spring after participating in the program's winter conditioning sessions. He enters 2016 as a redshirt junior, one year ahead of the redshirt sophomore Kizer, but with less overall experience thanks to injury.
Wimbush saw late-game action last year as a true freshman as Kizer's backup after Zaire went down.
"I think if all of us had a tape recorder on our meeting, it would be a consensus that we would love to be able to come out of the spring with a No. 1 quarterback," Kelly said. "We know that the nature of the guys we have here, and the guys that are competing are probably not going to let that happen. It's going to require all of the time that we have leading up to the first game.
"The ideal situation for us would be, 'Let's obviously get this done and move this team to the No. 1 quarterback,' but we don't see it happening that way. This thing is going to be so closely contested that it's going to take us some time to figure out, if we ever get to that, that we'll clearly have a No. 1."