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Kelly on Kizer: ‘He’s got all the tools ... He needs more football’

Virginia Tech v Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 19: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish talks with DeShone Kizer #14 on the sidelines against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Notre Dame Stadium on November 19, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana. Virginia Tech defeated Notre Dame 34-31. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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  • Fact No. 1: Former Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer entered the NFL Draft with two years of college eligibility remaining.
    Fact No. 2: Nearly two weeks ago, Irish coach Brian Kelly said he does not think Kizer is ready to win a Super Bowl right now.
    Fact No. 3: A full 13 days ago, Kelly also said he thinks Kizer has the most-promising future of all the quarterbacks in this draft.
    Fourth and final fact: Kelly reiterated those opinions yesterday during an interview with Bruce Murray and Brady Quinn on SiriusXM radio, adding he told Kizer the best place to grow as a player next year would be in college.

Oh, wait, another fact: It is 2017 and only 140 characters fit into a tweet, so a single Twitter post could easily leave out some of those first four facts.

Fortunately, this space faces no such restrictions.

Quinn, someone uniquely familiar with all that comes with being Notre Dame’s starting quarterback, asked Kelly about Kizer’s pro day. In answering, Kelly referenced Kizer’s “strong arm,” including, He’s got all those tools that you’re looking for at the quarterback position.” Kelly then proceeded to praise Kizer’s performance as the unexpected 2015 starter, leading the Irish to a 10-3 finish and an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl.

“Look at what he did as a redshirt freshman when he was sufficiently supported around him with a Will Fuller and a C.J. Prosise and the balance that he had,” Kelly said. “He had a young football team around him and it was difficult for him at times. So I think he’s got all the tools.

“He needs time. Brady, you know more than anybody else, two years of college football is not enough to go in there and lead a pro franchise to the Super Bowl. For those that have the opportunity to draft him and give him an opportunity to grow and learn, I think he’s got the best skillset of the quarterbacks coming out.”

That latter paragraph very much echoes Kelly’s comments from a March 22 press conference.

When Murray asked if Kizer still has room to improve, Kelly said yes. He also indicated Kizer does not have room to be much better in some of the most important areas, because he is already so strong in them.

“Well, he still should be in college, but the circumstances are such that you have to make business decisions, and he felt like it was in his best interest and I’m going to support him and his decision,” Kelly said. “The reality of it is he needs more football. He needs more time to grow in so many areas, not just on the field but off the field.

“He’s a great kid. He’s got great character. You don’t change character much, and he’s got great character so you’re not going to have an issue there with that young man. He’s going to continue to learn and he’ll learn with great coaches around him, a great mentor around him, so there’s a huge amount of growth that will happen every single day with DeShone Kizer.”

The NFL Draft begins April 27, with the second round April 28. Various mock drafts have projected the 6-foot-4 ¼ and 233-pound Kizer to be drafted in the first or second round.

RELATED READING: Kelly on Kizer’s NFL potential on March 22
Kizer’s combine interview looks back while his 40-time runs forward
Friday at 4: 40-yard dashes and absurdity (which includes notes from Kizer’s Pro Day at Notre Dame on March 23)

On walking the line of advocating for his player while also giving NFL front office personnel an honest assessment of Kizer:
“I’ve got a lot of relationships that are built on trust with GMs and head coaches in the NFL, and I’m going to be honest with them and I’m going to be honest with DeShone. There is still a lot of growth that has to take place, but I go back to what are the common threads that a great player needs to have? He’s got to have traits of excellence. He’s got to be able to have that attention to detail and that focus. He’s got to be smart. He’s got to have the ability to grind, and a great attitude. And he’s got those traits but they’ve got to be continuously worked on.

“Whoever takes DeShone, he’s not a finished product in those areas. But when he does get more time to work on those traits, you’re going to have a great young man and a great quarterback. Because the skills are out there, you can see them. You just go to his workout and you can see that he’s got those skills. He’s just not complete yet.

“If you want to draft him and say, ‘Come on,’ and turn it over to him, you’re going to have to support him with great leaders around him and great leadership. If you’re going to give him time and get a mentor for him, you’re going to have a great guy. That’s my honesty when I talk to GMs and head coaches.”

On what Kelly recommended to Kizer regarding to stay or to go:
“My recommendation to him was he needs more time. He needs to play more football, and I think the best place to play it is to continue his playing at Notre Dame.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t agree to disagree and then go and support him. That’s what we did. We had a great conversation with his family. I gave him my insight into why I thought it was a good idea for him to come back, but it wasn’t adversarial in any way.

“Once a decision was made, we were united and we went to work to put him in the best situation, helped him with the representation and getting the representation he needed and putting him in a good situation so he could train and get ready now for that next journey. Once a decision was made, it was all in and finding him the best path to get ready for the NFL. That’s generally how I’ve done it with every player that’s made a decision to leave.”