Players to Watch: Notre Dame

Leah Vann

Quarterback Malik Zaire

Zaire has been in a quarterback battle before and won. During Zaire’s redshirt freshman season in 2014 Coach Brian Kelly named the current senior the starter over Everett Golson in the Music City Bowl against LSU. The decision paid off — Zaire went 12 for 15 with 96 yards passing, rushed for 96 yards, and recorded two touchdowns for the Irish. Zaire earned the starting spot for the following season, prompting Golson to transfer to Florida State for his final year of eligibility. Last year against Texas, Zaire finished 19 for 22 with 313 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions, recording the highest completion percentage by a Notre Dame quarterback in school history. However, Zaire’s starting role ended the following week when he fractured his ankle against Virginia, where he went 7 for 18 with 115 passing yards and 87 yards rushing on 10 attempts. This dual-threat passer enters this season with yet another quarterback battle, and he’s not happy about it. Coach Brian Kelly will have him split snaps with junior quarterback DeShone Kizer on Sept. 4th, and he will fight once again for his starting spot. 

Quarterback DeShone Kizer

After Zaire’s season-ending injury against Virginia, Kizer picked up the pieces and lead the Irish to a 10-3 season. Kizer ended the season with 2,884 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. In addition, he racked up 520 yards for 10 touchdowns, fourth all-time in school history. Kizer had a slight edge on Zaire in the spring Blue-Gold game, where he finished 10 for 17 for 113 yards, and will have his fair shot at the starting position against Texas. 

Wide Receiver Torii Hunter 

The Prosper, Texas native is an all-around athlete on the football and baseball fields. Despite balancing workouts between both teams this past spring, Hunter still made a standout appearance at the Blue-Gold spring game that included a one-handed 50-yard reception.  Hunter finished third on the team last season with 363 yards, two touchdowns, and 28 catches. With wide receivers Will Fuller and Chris Brown gone, this could be Hunter’s breakout year. 

Defensive End Isaac Rochell

Rochell recorded 63 total tackles last season, with 7.5 tackles for loss. However, he isn’t much of a pass rusher, only recording one sack last year. But at 6-foot-3, 290 pounds Rochell has the size to clog up the running game. The three year veteran brings leadership and experience to the Irish defense.