After a successful college debut last week, could true freshman Brandon Wimbush turn into more than just a backup quarterback for Notre Dame?
Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said yes this week.
"Well, I would have probably answered that question a little bit differently last week by saying we just want to get him in the game and prepare him to be the No. 2 -- and he'll still be the No. 2 -- but I think there's more conversations -- at least I've had more conversations -- with possibly utilizing him in a smaller role in certain situations that we can utilize his skill set because he certainly is, well, we know he's got arm talent," Kelly said during his press conference Tuesday. "He certainly has the physical ability."
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Wimbush appeared to be headed toward a redshirt when the season began, but a season-ending injury to Malik Zaire elevated DeShone Kizer to the starting role and made Wimbush the backup.
He introduced himself to the college football world with a 58-yard touchdown run last week against Massachusetts.
Kizer, a 6-foot-4.25, 230-pound redshirt freshman, has performed well as the new starter, but Kelly admitted the 6-1, 216-pound Wimbush brings some different things to the table.
"He certainly doesn't have the whole playbook down at this point, but I think I'm moving more towards fine tuning some things that could get him in for the games regardless of the situation," Kelly said.
For his part, Kizer said the pair has a good relationship off the field.
"Since I've been here, I've had a good upbringing with Malik and (former starter Everett Golson) pulling me along, and now I take it as my job and my duty to make sure I'm bringing along the guys below me," Kizer said Wednesday. "We all have different experiences. We're all able to share those. Obviously Brandon had a great game against UMass, just as expected. The kid is an amazing athlete, and we always have conversations about just do the things that you do best. You don't have to be anyone but yourself out there."
As Kizer is also learning himself, the key to success at the college level can sometimes simply be confidence.
"If he can get the comfort level that I'm starting to get now, I believe that he's going to be a very good quarterback," Kizer said. "And with that being said, the rest of the offensive room is right there with him. We're always having a good time when we're at practice. We're all about business, with (quarterbacks coach Mike) Sanford leading the way, I think we have one of the best offenses -- or one of the best quarterback rooms in the country."