MIAMI — For the majority of the season, Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Everett Golson has relished the ability to stay out of the national spotlight, despite playing the most recognized position on the nation's only undefeated college football team.
Golson readily admits he does not like the spotlight, but if the sophomore pianist from Myrtle Beach can lead the No. 1 Irish to a victory over Alabama in Monday night's national championship game, he may no longer be able to avoid it.
This time last season, Golson had spent the majority of his time on the scout team and did not play in a game. The experience humbled him, he said, and forced him to "reassess" everything about himself as a player.
The results, his coaches and teammates say, speak for themselves. Golson has played in 11 games, with 10 starts, passing for 2,135 yards, 11 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He has rushed for 305 yards.
"I think it's just been steady improvement as the year has gone on," offensive coordinator Chuck Martin said. "The difficult thing but the nice thing for him is he got thrown in the fire right away. When you come out and you play three Big Ten teams your first four games and two or three huge rivals your first four games, he didn't get to ease into this thing like some young quarterbacks do, so he got put in a bunch of different situations."
But the situation Monday night will be like none other. When Golson squares off against an Alabama defense ranked No. 1 in Division I-A, how will he fare on the biggest stage of all?
"Well, it is a big stage, but I think just the person that I am doesn't really — I don't ride the wave too much," Golson said. "I'm kind of just focused on what's played between the yard lines, what's played on the field. Can't really focus on everything that's off the field because that's out of my control."
His teammates believe Golson will be more than up to the challenge.
"He's been prepared well, he's had a great month of preparation and I think he will do just fine," tight end Tyler Eifert said. "He's gotten a lot better. Anytime you're a young quarterback and you get some more time and start, you're going to get better and get more experience. I think he's taken the coaching better from the coaches and understanding what they're looking for in the offense, and that's really helped him."
Antonya English can be reached at email@example.com.