Don't judge Malik Zaire by stats

Watch List QB doesn't have big numbers, but Irish commit knows how to win

Originally Published: April 2, 2012
By Jared Shanker | ESPN RecruitingNation

ESPNU Watch List QB Malik Zaire might not throw for 1,000 yards all year.

Some prospects might worry that will affect their recruiting. Not Zaire.

Despite running the option at Kettering (Ohio) Archbishop Alter, he had offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Pitt, Nebraska and many more before committing to Notre Dame on March 25.

Zaire A Good Fit For ND

We feel Malik Zaire has many of the same qualities as Tajh Boyd as a player and thrower, only [Zaire] is left-handed. He is a creative and productive dual-threat QB who can buy time and is very effective when things break down. Despite a lack of ideal reps as a passer, it is easy to see that his delivery is very good and he is quick, compact and fluid in his motion. He lacks ideal height but is an ideal spread offense guy.

-- Tom Luginbill
ESPN senior national recruiting analyst

"It was never a concern," Zaire said. "I think a lot of coaches look off of potential, look for footwork and fundamentals. They don't have a lot of time to look at 12 minutes of film of different types of passes. My film was short enough that they can see all of it but long enough to make them see what they need to see."

Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly and quarterbacks coach Chuck Martin clearly saw everything they needed to see. Staffs often prefer and sometimes require seeing a quarterback throw live before extending an offer, but that wasn't the case with Zaire. The Irish extended an offer to Zaire in February without ever seeing him throw live.

"Coach Kelly and Coach Martin have been in the business a long time, and [with] what they saw on film they came to the conclusion I had the mechanics to run their offense. That was special," Zaire said. "[Watch List QB] Max Browne went to camp and it wasn't the right fit for the [Irish] offense, and he's the No. 1 QB in our class.

"For them to have the faith in me when I didn't go to camp shows a lot about what they see in me and my pass game."

At 6-foot, 190 pounds, Zaire is drawing comparisons to another highly regarded quarterback who did not light up the record books as a high school passer -- Clemson QB Tajh Boyd, who threw for less than 1,500 yards as a senior in high school but passed for 3,828 yards and 33 TDs as a sophomore this season for the Tigers.

Zaire believes coaches, fans or critics are making a mistake by looking at his lack of passing attempts or stats. As the quarterback at Alter, he knows he will never have the passing numbers of Maty Mauk, Ohio's top quarterback in 2012 and the national record holder for passing yards who signed with Missouri. However, Zaire believes a quarterback is not defined by numbers; he is defined by wins.

In his first full season as a starter this past fall, Zaire led Alter to a 10-0 regular season before suffering a first-round loss in the state playoffs. Notre Dame has not won 10 games since 2006 and is 32-31 during that five-year span.

"Numbers are numbers. I want them to look at my wins or losses, if I'm a good leader," Zaire said. "Good quarterbacks have great stats, but they don't always have great records. A great quarterback does what it takes to wins.

"I might not have the yards of Maty Mauk or rushing yards of someone else, but when it comes down to winning, that's something I have."

Jared Shanker

Florida State/ACC reporter