Newsmakers 2013: Central Catholic QB excited for future at Notre DameWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
By David Kubacki, Toledo Free Press Staff Writer
For three years as Central Catholic’s quarterback, DeShone Kizer looked to the “Play like a Champion Today” sign hanging in the football locker room for inspiration. As a quarterback hopeful at the University of Notre Dame, Kizer will tap a sign with the same inscription as part of one of college football’s most storied traditions.
In his career at Central Catholic, the 6-foot-5, 218-pound Kizer threw for 5,684 yards and rushed for 1,211 yards. He led the Irish to a 34-6 record in three years, including a Division II state championship in 2012. And Kizer believes there was no better place than Central Catholic to prepare him for college football.
“Here at Central Catholic, they expect nothing less than greatness,” Kizer said. “Over these four years, they have helped me develop into as good a person as I can possibly be. They’ve stayed on top of me with my academics and helped me develop who I am on and off the field. With Coach [Greg] Dempsey and the whole support staff they’ve put together, I believe Central Catholic has prepared me better than any other school could have.”
The list of suitors for Kizer’s talents was long and impressive, including perennial national championship contenders such as LSU and Alabama. According to Kizer, his family identified a three-step formula to help make the decision.
“The most important aspect was education,” Kizer said. “Notre Dame is definitely a schools that sticks out for academics compared to others I was considering. The second thing we looked at was the style of offense the team runs. I wanted to make sure that I went into a style that fit the type of guy I am. I am a dual-threat guy who would like to play in a pro-style where my running ability becomes more of an add-on than a requirement. Lastly, we looked closely at the coaching staff. If my parents are going to send me away for four to five years of my life, I wanted to make sure that the school I chose was going to treat me right and make sure they were going to be there for me rather than just being a number out on the field.”
Notre Dame fit all aspects of the formula and, after visiting campus, Kizer canceled his remaining college visits.
“The coaching staff was absolutely amazing,” Kizer said. “The offense they run is a pro-style offense, but they also get into a lot of spread offense which I think will help me a lot. Obviously, the academics speak for themselves. Walking across the stage and getting a degree from Notre Dame really sets you up for life. Everyone there wants to be successful and it’s going to be special to be in an environment like that.”
Competition for the quarterback position will be stiff. Everett Golson, who led the Fighting Irish to a national championship game in 2012, will return after a year away. In addition, freshman Malik Zaire will also compete for the starting job in 2014. However, Kizer said this presents a great opportunity to learn and grow as a quarterback.
“I just want to make sure I come in and learn from a guy who has been in a national championship game and has had success on the national stage,” Kizer said. “Would I like to play? Of course. I’m not the type of guy who is just going to walk in and want to sit the bench for my first year there. I want to get in and compete and play. I know it will take a lot of work and take a lot of time here at Central for the next five months to prepare myself before I get there. If I walk into a place and think that I am just going to take the job of a quarterback who has been in a national championship without working hard for it, then I am clueless. That’s exactly what’s not going to happen.”
For the remainder of his time in Ohio, Kizer said he plans to continue sharpening the skills needed to succeed at the next level. He knows there are aspects of his game he can improve and hopes to be an even better quarterback by the time training camp rolls around.
“I’m making sure that I continue to go over my last year’s game film to see what my weaknesses are,” Kizer said. “I like to run out of the pocket right so I have been working on rolling back to my left. I am working on my balance and tightening up my release. At the next level, things will definitely speed up. On top of that, I need to get bigger and stronger. If I think I am going to be successful because I was in high school, again, I would be clueless.”
As one of college football’s few remaining independent schools, Notre Dame consistently has one of the toughest schedules. For Kizer, this was another reason Notre Dame was so enticing.
“Being able to play at Clemson my sophomore year and being able to go to Stanford and USC every other year, it’s the only school in the nation I’ll be able to do that,” Kizer said. “We are also going to play in Dublin, Ireland. This is just something other schools don’t do. That’s why Notre Dame is so special. There is nowhere else in the country I would rather be when you put the academic tradition and football tradition together.”