Former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire is transferring to Florida.
The Fighting Irish’s former starting quarterback said Saturday that he plans to head to Gainesville, and the Southeastern Conference’s newly amended graduate transfer rule will allow Zaire to immediately suit up for the Gators in 2017.
“You just want to be able to be a part of something special,” Zaire said Saturday night, via 247Sports. “You’re playing in basically like a minor league from the league. For me, I didn’t want the challenge to dissipate at the end of the day. Coming from Notre Dame, you’re playing top games every week, and I wanted to continue that trend. I didn’t want to run from the challenge, I wanted to embrace the challenge.”
The Gators’ new 6-foot-1, 225-pound quarterback should immediately compete with redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks and Luke Del Rio for the starting job. Zaire won Notre Dame’s starting quarterback role in 2015 but a broken ankle in the second game of the season led to a breakout season for backup quarterback DeShone Kizer.
Through three seasons in South Bend, Zaire amassed 816 passing yards, 324 rushing yards, and eight total touchdowns.
“I’m going in there to be a part of the team and do what I can to help the team win and win the team’s respect,” Zaire said. “There’s other guys out there on the field too, so being a good teammate is first and foremost. Being a good teammate and letting the other things happen when they happen and continue to work hard. I think I bring some value and good things to the team, so I’m excited to be a part of that.”
The Gators open their 2017 schedule at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas against the Michigan Wolverines on Sept. 2.
“You just always want to be in big opportunities and big moments,” Zaire said. “I think those are the calls of greatness and the games and opportunities that you want to be in as a quarterback. I’m confident that the guys around me and the team is ready to take on that challenge this year and do big things.”
Florida has won the SEC East in each of its first two seasons under head coach Jim McElwain, and Zaire is just excited for the opportunity to join another historic program during his collegiate tenure.
“I go down there Wednesday and kind of just see everything and tour everything and set some stuff up,” Zaire said. “Just try to engrain myself on being a Gator. Excited for the opportunity and eager to get there.”