Brian Kelly spoke bluntly about his former quarterback this week. The Notre Dame head coach said of DeShone Kizer, who chose to leave early for the NFL the following…
“He should still be in college. … He needs more time to grow in so many areas, not just on the field but off the field…(but) once a decision was made, we were united and we went to work to put him in the best situation.”
Kelly’s comments immediately invite two questions. The first one is obvious and it’s the question of whether the assessment is accurate. I watched each Notre Dame game last season and I don’t think there’s any doubt that Kelly’s words are true. Kizer is simply not ready to play quarterback in the NFL.
I’ll never argue against someone who wants to go get paid, especially that given that some team will blow a first-round pick reaching for a quarterback. But from a purely football standpoint, I didn’t see Kizer as being on the top rung of college quarterbacks, much less ready to bolt for the NFL.
But the second question is bigger and it splits into two parts. Was it wise for Brian Kelly to say this? And was it the right thing to do?
The wisdom part of the question boils down to this—when Kelly recruits his next high school quarterback, that kid and his parents are surely going to be aware of what Kelly said about Kizer on his way out the door (or if they aren’t aware, a rival recruiter will make them aware). Kelly’s comments certainly didn’t help Kizer’s cause with NFL front offices, and any new prospect is going to have to take note of that.
That leads into a second question which is this—the wisdom of the remarks aside, was it even fair to say them publicly? DeShone Kizer gave his best to the Notre Dame football program. Whatever flaws there were in his game, his effort was always there as he tried week after week to cover up for a defense that was in turmoil.
This isn’t the way a head coach is supposed to reward that effort. Sure, behind closed doors, tell the kid he’s making a mistake in leaving early. But don’t undercut him publicly this way.
I’m not optimistic about DeShone Kizer making it in the NFL, but I hope he does well. I’m also not optimistic about Brian Kelly making it much longer at Notre Dame and going public with comments like these make it difficult to offer much of a defense.