Everett Golson Just Became College Football’s Hottest Free Agent

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The promising, frustrating, interrupted and altogether tumultuous Notre Dame career of quarterback Everett Golson is over. ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy and FoxSports.com’s Bruce Feldman each reported Thursday that Everett Golson is transferring upon his graduation later this month.

Everett Golson is suddenly the most intriguing college quarterback in the nation, perhaps providing a one-year solution for a program in desperate need of a veteran playmaker. Of course, taking on Golson means accepting the risk inherent with his erratic play.

The Golson who started 2014 with 19 touchdown passes and four scoring runs can lead a team to championship contention. The Golson whose second half of the season ended in being benched is another story.

Plenty of teams need a quarterback enough that Everett Golson is worth the risk. He’s experienced and, when connecting, quite explosive. That alone would make him an upgrade for several teams that fancy themselves conference or even national championship contenders.

Who says Golson won’t start in Notre Dame Stadium come Week 1? Tyrone Swoopes has never met his potential at Texas, and Charlie Strong forgot his name during testimony in the Oklahoma State-prompted investigation of Joe Wickline earlier this spring.

Golson could be the perfect stop-gap while Jerrod Heard preps. However, I wouldn’t anticipate Brian Kelly and Notre Dame administration signing off on its two-year starter going to finish out his career for the Irish’s Week 1 opponent.

The same goes for members of the ACC, the conference with which Notre Dame has a five-game scheduling agreement. This year’s ACC opponents for the Irish are Virginia, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Pitt and Wake Forest. Clemson heavily pursued Golson as a prep out of Myrtle Beach, but the Tigers are set with promising youngster DeShaun Watson at quarterback.

The all-around bleak outlook at quarterback in the SEC translates to a number of possible destinations. LSU has a pair of youngsters in Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris, neither of whom was effective in the Tigers’ disappointing 2014. Adding Everett Golson is a way of continuing their competition to determine the program’s future direction at quarterback, without sacrificing on-field potential this season.

Morever, NOLA.com’s Jim Kleinpeter reported in January that Golson had reached out to LSU staff.

As a South Carolina native with an offer from Steve Spurrier coming out of high school, Everett Golson makes sense for the Gamecocks. Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report wrote last month that South Carolina could start true freshman Lorenzo Nunez, with none of the Gamecocks veterans separating themselves during spring competition.

However, Golson’s 2013 suspension from the University of Notre Dame for academic fraud means the quarterback would have to appeal for admittance into any SEC university.

So where does that leave us? Group of Five destinations like Houston and SMU are attractive, given both have first-year coaches with strong track records of developing quarterbacks as offensive coordinators. SMU’s Chad Morris pursued Golson while the former was an assistant at Clemson, and there’s no doubt Golson could jump in for the Mustangs immediately.

However, Nebraska is an intriguing possibility that would keep Everett Golson in the Power Five. Golson is the kind of dual-threat playmaker the Cornhuskers have long favored, but his desire to play in the NFL might make new head coach Mike Riley’s pro-set an attractive option.

Nebraska returns quarterback Tommy Armstrong, but Riley has proven willing to keep quarterback competitions open for as long as necessary. In 2012, he benched eventual Pac-12 passing record setter Sean Mannion for Cody Vaz over a stretch in November. Thus, Riley opening up the position over fall camp could be a very real possibility.

No matter where Everett Golson lands, his value is high.