Tampa Bay Sports Day

GATORS: Former Notre Dame QB Zaire Transferring to Florida

Former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire plans to transfer to Florida and join the Gators as a graduate transfer. Zaire is expected to compete with Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and Luke Del Rio for the Gators’ starting job. 

“The visit Wednesday is just making sure we dot our I’s and cross our T’s, so it’s just everything really solidifying things,” Zaire told ESPN. “Making sure it feels how I know it would be of making it a home. If everything goes as planned, I’m a Gator, but of course the visit is important to take everything in.”

Zaire will be eligible to play this season.

At Notre Dame, the 6-foot-1, 225-pound left-handed quarterback completed 58 of 98 passes for 816 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions in his Fighting Irish career. He also rushed 72 times for 324 yards and two scores.

“I am going to embrace that challenge and I’m very eager to get down there,” Zaire told Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman.
Zaire said earlier in the week that he was considering multiple schools, including Florida, Texas, Wisconsin and North Carolina.

“You just want to be able to be a part of something special,” Zaire told 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.”

On Friday, SEC school presidents and chancellors tweaked the conference’s graduate transfer policy, easing restrictions and reducing penalties for programs whose graduate transfers fail to meet academic requirements.

The Gators had been unable to add Zaire because two previous graduate transfers — linebacker Anthony Harrell and offensive lineman Mason Halter — failed to meet academic requirements after transferring to Florida in 2015, putting coach Jim McElwain’s program on probation.

The conference’s graduate transfer rule previously prevented schools that had graduate transfers who did not meet the academic requirements from accepting more transfers for a three-year period.

Friday’s vote reduced the ban to one year, a proposal by the athletic directors at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla. The SEC had been the only Power 5 conference with that kind of punitive system.

“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 told 247Sports. “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.”

Zaire decided to leave Notre Dame after the Irish’s disappointing 4-8 season in 2016