Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire is reportedly set to transfer away from the Fighting Irish, and the possible destinations include powers from the ACC, Big Ten and SEC.
Brian Kelly’s Fighting Irish were already preparing for the likely departure of DeShone Kizer, who is projected as a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Now, it will have to deal with the loss of the guy Kizer beat out for the starting job.
Senior quarterback Malik Zaire is set to meet with Kelly on Wednesday and is expected to receive a formal release from the program, according to Scout. Zaire, who plans to graduate in December, will be eligible to play immediately next season as a graduate transfer.
The Irish will have four other quarterbacks returning to the roster next season — barring additional transfers — along with 4-star prospect Avery Davis, the No. 12 quarterback in the 2017 recruiting class, who has been committed to Notre Dame since March.
A few programs have emerged as potential landing spots for Zaire including Florida, Pitt, Michigan State and Wisconsin.
Jim McElwain’s Gators have been consistent players in the transfer-quarterback market. Florida has been rumored to be interested in former Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett and former Baylor star Jarrett Stidham. However, there’s a chance McElwain may not even be in Gainesville next season. Despite winning two consecutive SEC East titles, McElwain could reportedly be interested in the Oregon job if it became available.
If Zaire were to pick Florida, he’d be competing with rising redshirt junior Luke Del Rio and rising redshirt freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask.
Pitt would also have three quarterbacks returning. The Spartans would have four returners, and the Badgers would have three quarterbacks headed back to Madison next season.
However, Alex Hornibrook wouldn’t relinquish Wisconsin’s starting job without a fight. And Michigan State also has 3-star quarterback Rocky Lombardi coming into the picture in East Lansing.
Zaire’s easiest path to being a starting quarterback again would likely point toward Pitt, though he would conceivably win the job at all four programs.
In three seasons with the Fighting Irish, Zaire completed 59.2 percent of his passes for 816 yards and six touchdowns.