I’m not sure yet what to make of the move by Everett Golson, former quarterback for the Myrtle Beach High School Seahawks. He led Myrtle Beach to state titles in football and basketball while elevating the program back into national prominence.
But more than that, he was a stalwart student and person and is revered by many in the small community, Booker T. Washington, where he resided years ago. Even when he was caught up in an academic ‘scandal’ that led to a suspension from Notre Dame University, his star didn’t dim in the eyes of too many of the people who know him best. It didn’t dim in my mind.
My advice for him them was simple: apologize, make amends, stay the course towards redemption.
And for a good portion of this past college football season, it seems as though he was doing just that. Off the field, there were no problems, but there were reports about his showing contrition and strong leadership abilities - which was, again, no surprise to those who knew him.
On the field, it was even more impressive. He led the Fighting Irish to near the top of the college football rankings, as he had when he was a fresh-faced freshman. The difference was that the team’s success was more contingent on his play than on the defense that led the way to a national title game against Alabama a few years ago.
And he seemed up to the challenge, leading the team to a great record and coming one controversial pick-play call from becoming the first team to beat Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston. During that period, Golson shot up the preliminary Heisman rankings, which made me more certain about a prediction I made while watching him lead Myrtle Beach High School during his senior year, that he could, or would, win the Heisman Trophy. (His one big weekly flaw this past season was a tendency to fumble, which eventually led to his benching late in the season, giving way to a two-quarterback platoon with a teammate, the last thing a quarterback wants.)
His skills were that immense. His maturity seemed off-the-charts for someone his age. His intellect was strong, and character stronger.
I believed those things as I believe them now.
I don’t know that I have advice for Golson now that he is leaving Notre Dame. That always seemed a possibility, given how last season ended. And it doesn’t necessarily seem like a bad thing, given that he is still walking away from a great school with a degree in tow - the surest sign of his ability to look hardship (even if it was of his own making) in the eye and rise above it any way. He should be commended for that, if nothing else. I still think it would be great if he would share his story with Myrtle Beach area students and youngsters who still look up to him (for good reason) and remind them that, though it might not be easy or be immediate, challenges can be overcome.
As far as his football career, the less important part of his story, I think it would be a mistake to skip his final year of eligibility and try to head to the National Football League or some other professional football league right now. The opportunity he has to learn even more, as well as enjoying a final year in college, only comes around once. And because of how things ended on the field, with him in a fight for his starting quarterback position, it makes sense to find a school where he can continue honing his incredible football skill set before venturing out into the world of professional football.
There’s no rush. Really. I hope he understands that. And I hope he finds a good school to become as big a success on the field that his degree shows he found a way to become in the classroom after a high-profile hiccup.
I still believe he has the talent to win a Heisman Trophy. But does he have the patience?
Update: I should not have worried. Golson is leaving Notre Dame but plans on going to another school. That’s good news.
This is also something to note: Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was extremely patient as Golson went through growing pains during his freshman year. He could have benched Golson multiple times that year, but also allowed him to remain as the starting quarterback, even if a more seasoned player had to replace him at the end of games.
And Kelly welcomed Golson back after the suspension. It is good to see both sides praising each other during I’m sure what is an emotional, uncomfortable split.