Four days after saying his former quarterback, DeShone Kizer, should have stayed in college rather than entering the 2017 NFL Draft as an underclassman, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly tried to dull the edge on those remarks Friday.
"Whatever was interpreted, I have a great deal of positive feelings for DeShone," Kelly said Friday, per the Indianapolis Star. "I think he's the best quarterback coming out. I think that everybody that comes to Notre Dame would benefit from another year when they don't have their degree and can use college football to season themselves. So DeShone is not in that category by himself."
Kelly came across more critically in a Sirius XM Radio interview Monday, and in turn, drew some criticism himself. Along with suggesting Kizer should have stayed in college, he noted that the Fighting Irish's two-year starter "needs more time to grow in so many areas," both on and off the field. Kizer is considered among the NFL draft's most talented quarterbacks, but like the other top passers available, there are scouting concerns about whether he could perform well as a rookie. In other words, Kelly sees what the scouts see -- a quarterback who will need some time to develop. But he also sees high potential in Kizer, as well.
"I think he's got great character. I named him a captain," Kelly added Friday. "So for that to be seen any other way but positive, I think the headline could have been, 'Coach Kelly sees Kizer as the best quarterback in the draft,' or 'Kelly sees Kizer as having great character.' But, it wasn't seen that way and there's nothing I can do about it. I think the world of DeShone. I think he's gonna be a great quarterback in the NFL."
How long that might take is a question NFL clubs are seeking an answer to, and they have only about three weeks to make up their minds. The draft will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia.