Multiple media outlets are reporting that Notre Dame quarterback has been released from his scholarship and plans to transfer to a new school as a graduate student with one year of eligibility remaining. Zaire, who lost his starting job to DeShone Kizer early in the Fighting Irish’s dumpster fire of a season, managed just 122 passing yards over eight games in 2016. Over his 17-game Notre Dame career, Zaire has a 59.2 percent completion percentage with 816 passing yards and six touchdowns. A mobile quarterback, the Kettering, Ohio, native also rushed for 324 yards on 72 attempts with two touchdowns.
Wisconsin, along with several other schools, including Pitt and Michigan State, has been reported as a possible landing spot. (Auth. note: reports regarding possible mobility restrictions on Zaire’s transfer appear to be incorrect as of Wednesday evening).
While the scholarship math is a bit dodgy about whether the Badgers can even fit Zaire into the program, we at B5Q have never been above rank, idle speculation. While he was unseated by Kizer, Zaire is an intriguing talent, particularly given coach Paul Chryst’s well-deserved reputation as a quarterback whisperer (unlike Irish coach Brian Kelly, who has a well-deserved reputation as an everyone yeller).
With the impending graduation of Bart Houston, quarterback depth is a question mark for the Badgers in 2017. Redshirt freshman starter Alex Hornibrook returns, as does true freshman Kare Lyles. Jack Coan has made a verbal commitment, but I’m sure that Chryst would prefer he redshirt if at all possible. True freshman walk-on Garrett Groshek is also in the mix.
That’s a young group at quarterback. Zaire could immediately provide depth, experience and an interesting change-of-pace option. His arrival, while potentially impactful to Hornibrook, need not hinder the starter’s development. Zaire does not project as an NFL quarterback and may wish to find a home that can not only allow him to be a signal caller but also highlight his talents in other ways. Chryst has already shown a willingness to rotate quarterbacks
seemingly at random and utilize players in creative ways, so it is conceivable that both Hornibrook and Zaire could see a lot of playing time (even at the same time) were the latter to choose Madison as his new home.
Wisconsin is likely an attractive destination. Assuming that Ryan Ramczyk does not depart for the NFL, the Badgers will return five offensive starters named to All-Big Ten teams. Chryst’s history of maximizing quarterbacks of all types and his ability to get the most out of players underutilized or under-recruited by other teams is also a plus. For a team looking to repeat as Big Ten West champions, Zaire’s arrival would at the very least provide some interesting options for a creative coaching staff.
What say you, Badger Nation?