Malik Zaire could have stayed home this week and let the latter part of July start fading into early August before football season starts full go at Archbishop Alter in Kettering, Ohio.
Instead, the Notre Dame football commit will put his quarterback skills to the test in Redondo Beach, Calif., at the Elite 11 finals.
Zaire earned one of the first 12 invites to the 25-quarterback camp after performing in the Columbus, Ohio regional back in May. He left for California on Tuesday, his first trip to the state, and will be staying until Sunday.
“I want to see some of these other guys that everybody’s been talking about,” Zaire said before leaving for the camp. “I know I can compete and keep up with them and make throw for throw with some of these guys. I’m very confident in the fact that I can go in there and come out on top.”
At the camp, Zaire will have the opportunity to learn from a number of quarterback mentors including Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer, the lead instructor of the camp, and George Whitfield, who has helped Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck prepare for the NFL.
Zaire said it’s been an honor to be in touch with Dilfer since receiving the invitation to the finals.
“I would love to be able to learn a lot from him and the things he’s picked up along the way because he’s been to all levels of football,” Zaire said. “He’s been on the biggest stage of football in the Super Bowl. I just want to get the chance to pick his brain a little bit about the challenges that he went through and the things that he can help me with along the way.”
The top 11 quarterbacks will be ranked based on their performance throughout the week. The players will be put through a number of physical and mental drills to test their abilities.
Zaire received his playbook for the camp several weeks ago and studied it from cover to cover. He expects the event to be much more mentally challenging than normal quarterback camps.
“I’ve been preparing with hard work. The guys around me – my teammates and other guys around the area – have definitely helped me a lot,” Zaire said. “It’s about self-motivation and confidence when you’re heading into a competition like this because a lot of guys are really skilled and that’s why they made it.”
The 6-foot, 196-pound quarterback has his sights set on winning the competition despite falling just short behind Michigan commit Shane Morris in Columbus.
“Shane and I are good friends, but on the field we’re very competitive people,” Zaire said. “We get at it and talk a little smack on the field to match each other, but it’s definitely going to be a nice, long week of competing and seeing who’s better heading into college.”
This year’s competition will mark the third straight with a future Notre Dame player after Gunner Kiel and Everett Golson participated the last two years.
This year’s competition will be televised on ESPN on Aug. 7 and 14. Zaire watched last year’s competition and is eager to show Notre Dame fans what he can do.
“It was pretty intense. It’s definitely a mental game so you have to stay focused 100 percent of the time while you’re out there,” Zaire said. “It’s competitive from beginning to end. That’s something that I am – I’m an ultimate competitor so I’m going to be intense out there 100 percent of the time and I’m going to be ready.”
Targets commit to USC
A pair of prospects with offers from Notre Dame verbally committed to USC on Wednesday.
Safety Max Redfield from Mission Viejo, Calif., committed to the 2013 class, bringing a total of 16 commitments to the class. The Trojans can take 18 commitments in this class if three enroll early to offset their 15 scholarship restriction from NCAA sanctions.
With few spots left at USC, the Irish may be able to garner interest from recruits that won’t be able to join the Trojans. Redfield told the Tribune that he still plans to make an official visit to Notre Dame this fall.
Offensive tackle Casey Tucker from Chandler, Ariz., committed to the 2014 class. He’s the third verbal commit for USC in the class, all offensive linemen.
Redfield is ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 4 safety by Rivals.com and No. 5 by 247Sports.com. Tucker is the No. 9 offensive tackle in the 2014 class according to 247Sports.
USC’s 2013 class of 16 verbal commitments has surpassed Michigan for the No. 1 class according to both Rivals and 247Sports.
Hargreaves tweets ND visit
Five-star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III of Tampa, Fla., tweeted that he wouldn’t be talking with reporters until after his road trip of visits across the country, but he did take to Twitter to describe his visit to Notre Dame.
The visit lasted roughly three hours with Hargreaves giving the visit “two thumbs up” when he was finished. He tweeted out a photo of him wearing a No. 24 Irish jersey and a photo of Touchdown Jesus.
He also shared that his father, University of South Florida assistant coach Vernon Hargreaves, enjoyed the visit.
“My dad is more exciting about ND than me babaha, calling all his buddies and bragging about it hahaha!” he tweeted.
Hargreaves has visited Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Clemson and Georgia since leaving South Bend on Monday.
Will he stick to football?
After being nationally recruited as a football player, including receiving an offer from Notre Dame, University of Washington signee Shaq Green-Thompson decided to give minor league baseball a shot when the Boston Red Sox drafted him in the 18th round.
Green-Thompson joined their Gulf Coast Rookie League team in June before heading to Washington for football in the fall, but the two-sport star has looked one-dimensional so far.
Green-Thompson has played in 12 games piling up 36 strikeouts in 37 at-bats. He has managed to reach base on eight walks and has scored three runs. The one fair ball came on July 6, a ground ball to the first baseman which plated a run for Green-Thompson’s lone RBI of the season.
Notre Dame was among the top five or six programs that Green-Thompson had said to be considering before signing with Washington. Rivals ranked Green-Thompson as the No. 1 safety and No. 2 player overall in the class of 2012.
Staff writer Tyler James: firstname.lastname@example.org 574-235-6214