Notre Dame has long been a national powerhouse football team. The “Golden Domers” were the standard of excellence for years, where winning was both expected and achieved. But recently Notre Dame has struggled to live up to those expectations.
Coming into 2016 the expectations were high; ranked 10th preseason in the AP poll, the Fighting Irish went on to finish just 4-8, failing to reach a Bowl game for the first time since 2009.
With backup QB Malik Zaire transferring, the starting job should be going to Jr. QB Brandon Wimbush. Wimbush is a Jersey kid who attended St Peter’s Prep.
He says that school helped prepare him for the next level: “The discipline that Prep requires easily translates to the next level, and the maturity level of the people you go to school with helps you endure a smooth transition as well.”
Growing up in Jersey, Wimbush never had a favorite player. He did however enjoy watching a certain QB and emulating his game, which would be great news for Notre Dame fans. “I have the utmost respect for Aaron Rodgers and what he is able to do on a consistent basis.”
Notre Dame had a stellar college QB of their own in 2016 in DeShone Kizer, who landed with the Cleveland Browns in the second round. Wimbush has complete faith that this was the right decision for Kizer, along with all of his other NFL bound teammates: “All of the guys that are training for the draft have had the ultimate preparation in the meeting rooms as well as on the field, so I have no doubt that they will be very successful.”
When speaking to Wimbush you can tell that Notre Dame is where he is meant to be. He had originally committed to Penn State but later shifted to Notre Dame.
“I was raised to be academically driven, and I wanted the University that would challenge all aspects of my life. I felt that Notre Dame, more so than Penn State, was consistent with my criteria for College.”
Wimbush was a 4-star QB, ranked as the 2nd QB in New Jersey and 4th nationally. Choosing Notre Dame meant that Wimbush had to wait his turn, something that star players across the country have trouble with annually. Especially guys who were considered tops at their position. Wimbush didn’t look to transfer; instead he worked hard on the field and in the classroom.
Knowing he made the right choice of schools was a big benefit for him. “Being at the University of Notre Dame made the waiting experience a bit easier than I think it would’ve been if I was at another school. That’s because I was able to strengthen so many more aspects of my life and be exposed to consistent greatness in other fields such as the world of business.”
But now is the time for Wimbush to take the reins. He is ready for his opportunity but knows he will have to win a competition to keep his job. He knows nothing in life is guaranteed, something he learned from Kizer: “The one thing (Kizer) did teach me is that competition can arise at any time at the quarterback position so continue to work your butt off at all times.” Wimbush is excited for his opportunity and knows the shoes he is stepping in, saying “It’s a great honor to take over his position.”
Wimbush’s talents speak for themselves. Whether it’s the big arm, notable mobility in the pocket or his ability to beat you with his legs, there is nothing on the field he cannot do. And yet when he’s asked about his greatest strength? “Good times or bad times, I will always have the same expression on my face and I believe you need that attribute from your leader who will indeed go through tough times and very successful times.” A leader on the field, Wimbush’s personality is vital for a first time starter stepping onto the field with so many experienced players.
Notre Dame’s coach Brian Kelly is known for producing QBs. He is also known for winning. And the occasional outburst.
But Wimbush tells me there’s more to Kelly than the public perception, “He is a great guy and is easy to communicate with both on and off the field.”
With many returning starters and a talented QB, Kelly and company will have high expectations for 2017. Wimbush doesn’t shy away from the expectations: “The Notre Dame team will take the country by storm next year and you guys can count on that one.“