Notre Dame looks set to lose another displaced starting quarterback. Malik Zaire will meet with Brian Kelly on Wednesday and is expected to receive a formal release from the program to pursue a graduate transfer, Pete Sampson of Scout.com reports.
The left-handed-throwing quarterback is expected to generate extensive interest among Power 5 teams. Florida, Pittsburgh, Michigan State and Wisconsin are expected to be the primary contenders for Zaire’s 2017 services, per Irish Illustrated. Zaire remains on track to graduate from Notre Dame in December and will have one season of eligibility remaining as a graduate student.
The backup quarterback won’t be encumbered by bowl practices since the Irish have completed one of their most disappointing seasons; he’ll be able to make transfer visits soon. Although he is listed as a senior, Zaire did not play in his 2013 freshman season. His time as a starting signal-caller in South Bend, Indiana was brief but memorable, enough to entice programs who have enjoyed successful 2016 seasons.
Zaire started over the since-departed Everett Golson in the 2014 Music City Bowl and earned MVP honors in that game, a Notre Dame win over LSU. Once Golson transferred to Florida State, Zaire then opened the 2015 season as the Irish’s starter and led a victory over Texas. However, a broken ankle threw Zaire’s career off course. NFL prospect DeShone Kizer stepped in and never relinquished the job. Now with Kizer set to become in all likelihood a first-round draft pick — potentially the No. 1 selection — the Irish will have to start over at quarterback again.
For his career, Zaire’s only thrown 98 passes as a backup to Golson and Kizer. He turned those into 816 air yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. So, he will be one of the most interesting hot-stove players this winter.