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One week after Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly told SiriusXM NFL Radio that he believes former Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer should “still be in college,” Kizer had a platform to give his reaction to those comments.
Kizer was a guest on ESPN 1000 in Chicago on Tuesday, joining the Kap and Co. Show with David Kaplan and Jordan Cornette.
Listen to the full interview here. Kizer begins around the 90-minute mark.
Kizer, who is competing to be the top quarterback selected in this month’s NFL Draft, was asked by Cornette — a former Irish basketball player — what his reaction was to Kelly’s comments.
“The way that the media pushed this and took it down this completely negative path, and once you get it interpreted that way…I took it as the truth, I took it as reality,” Kizer said. “Timing is everything with the comment and obviously as my name continues to grow as we get closer to the draft, anything and everything that looks negative is going to be portrayed as negative. For me, it’s honestly the truth. I had two more years available. I’m only 21 years of age. There is a lot of growth for me. There’s a lot of growth for everyone in this draft. There’s a lot of guys out there who had to make big adjustments as they move into the NFL and I know it. That’s why I’m not the No. 1 quarterback guaranteed walking into this draft as we speak.
“Is there a chance? Absolutely. But that’s where the question marks come from and Coach Kelly addressed it. For me, that’s just another opportunity for me to acknowledge that I do need to grow. And yes, when I am meeting with these coaches on the potential teams that I play on, I need to understand that I need to buy into their coaching to become successful, to fill in those gaps, to become the pro that I need to become.
“Being 21 years old and playing against guys like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers who have been pros for as long as I’ve been playing football, those are the guys that I compete with. To get to that level where I ultimately feel I should be one day in my career, I had to acknowledge that I am young just like coach said. I had to acknowledge that I could have had a couple extra years in college like coach said. And I had to grow. And in order to grow and become a good quarterback, you have to realize that there is much more potential and much more room for growth for me.”
Kizer was then asked specifically if he was surprised by what Kelly said.
“First, I really was not taken back,” Kizer said. “The way that Coach Kelly coaches is one that is based upon your on the field development. The things that come out to the media and the way they go about things, that’s all noise in terms of the way that I want to move forward with my career. In order to play quarterback, in order to be a franchise guy, in order to play for a team like the Chicago Bears, a team like the Arizona Cardinals or a team like the Browns, the Niners, they’re all going to have media guys, they’re all going to have different coaches and different perspectives and they’re all going to have their own opinion. In order for me to be great and to become a pro, I have to realize that not everyone is going to say the right thing at the right time, or not everyone is going to praise me after a big win or put me down after a tough loss.
“In order to be successful, you have to be able to ignore that noise. That’s all I’m trying to do now. There’s a lot of comments out there about me, there’s a lot of opinions. I’m in a position right now heading into the draft where everyone has to form an opinion on me. Everyone within your industry, everyone within my industry like the coaches and players, they’re going to form their own opinion. My ultimate goal is that whatever team I’m selected on that I get to prove that I believe that I’m the best quarterback in this draft.”
The interview then turned toward Kizer’s relationship with Kelly.
“Coach Kelly and I had a really productive and working relationship I believe,” Kizer said. “When choosing to go to a school like Notre Dame and playing for a guy as successful as Coach Kelly, you have to understand the style of coaching that he has. He wants to coach you hard, and that’s exactly what I wanted. My dad has been my coach all the way up until I was 15 years old in basketball. He coached me harder than anyone that will ever coach me. We knew that in order to get the best out of me, I was going to have to have someone that’s similar to the way my dad coaches. That was hard and aggressive at times.
“With that, Coach Kelly did the exact thing we expected him to do. He pushed me harder than anyone else pushed me. He held me to standards just as high as I would hold my standards myself, and that’s what got me to play at my best. Off the field with Coach Kelly, our relationship was just as it’s expected to be. That was one where we saw each other we’d have a couple conversations here and there, but for the most part we were all about business. We were both just so competitive that at times you see on the sidelines and you see from an outsider’s perspective at times we’re going to clash heads. That just comes with a competitive nature of both of us.
“He expects a lot out of me and I expect him to hold me to those same standards. It is what it is. Coach Kelly and I have created a great relationship and it’ll be a lifelong relationship. He was my college coach. He taught me what I know with football right now and it’ll forever be my platform for whatever success I have moving forward into the NFL.”
Kizer said he and Kelly have not met or talked to discuss how the comments were taken. Kelly clarified his stance after practice last week, and Kizer is not taking the comments personally.
“If there’s a conversation that needs to be had, there will be,” Kizer said. “I also understand that with Coach Kelly, if it is something that he truly believes or something that could be taken down the wrong path, he would address it with me in the first place. As soon as all this chaos created around the couple comments and he didn’t come reach to me, I quickly understood that it really wasn’t as big of a deal as it could be pushed out to be. If it was something that he felt strongly about or something that he was going to address the media and make a big deal, he would’ve warned me before and that’s how our relationship has always been. There would be dialogue before that.
“As soon as I knew that those statements were out and he didn’t approach me right away, it probably isn’t interpreted the way that he wanted it to be. From what I understand he’s addressed it again and kind of pushed out what he’s supposed to say. Once again, I truly believe what he said is the truth. It can taken a lot farther than what it actually is, but if you look at the exact words, I am young, I could be back for a couple more years and I do have a lot of room to grow. I can’t be upset with the truth.
“As long as I can acknowledge it and push myself to become a better player because of it, the success that I have in the NFL will be a little more than a 4-8 season at Notre Dame.”
Other notes from the interview…
• Kizer said he’s been on a tour of checking out a bunch of different teams. He’s wrapping up the training portion and he’s ready for the draft.
• He was just at the Cardinals facility in Arizona. Said it was a pretty routine trip. Said it would be an awesome situation to slide into the Cardinals behind Carson Palmer.
• Kizer said it would be a cool opportunity to be taken by the Chicago Bears at No. 3. The goal right now is to create a platform for him to be successful with any team that takes him.
• Kizer said he’s being asked by teams how he was able to go 4-8 with the talent that he has. Also asking him about accuracy issues. Said he answers that by taking ownership and saying that with the ball in his hands he has to be better and more accurate. Said he’s made improvements in footwork, mechanics, and mentality going into a play.
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