Notre Dame commitment Malik Zaire already had the credentials as one of the top quarterbacks in the country. After competing in the Elite 11 Finals in California this summer, he now has the confidence to elevate his game to the next level.
“Competing there definitely helped me,” Zaire said. “It kept me competitive throughout my off-season knowing I can’t take plays off in practice and it keeps me in a competitive mindset at all times.”
The new and improved Zaire saw his first action of the season on Wednesday in a scrimmage against Cincinnati Taft.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from Dayton, Ohio saw plenty of positives in his and his team’s performance but knows if he is to achieve his goal of winning a state title there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“Our offense looked strong and I threw the ball a lot, so I was happy,” he said. “We still need to eliminate the bad series by not allowing bad plays to stack on each other.”
With Zaire’s experience under center, Archbishop Alter is more dynamic than ever running and throwing the football. That puts Zaire in position to bring home the coveted state title.
“That’s our only goal,” he said. “This team is definitely something special. We want to win and that’s the only thing in our minds. We’re taking it one game at a time but we’re looking at every game as a playoff game.”
Zaire knows there will be ups and downs this season and in his leadership role he will be responsible for keeping his teammates on the same page throughout the season.
That starts with his own performance.
“I’m focusing on being consistent and staying a great leader for the team,” he said. “I need to have consistency throughout the games so we can score and lead the team to victory.”
The Knights only have a couple of days before their next scrimmage to work out the kinks. They’ll be back in action on Saturday in a quad scrimmage with Beavercreek, Xenia and Tipp City.
They close out the pre-season on Aug. 17 at Vandalia Butler.
The pressure of winning a state championship extends beyond Zaire’s desire to be the best. He wants to give back to his teammates who helped him become one of the nation’s top passers and paved the way for his future at Notre Dame.
“I’m excited to get a chance to play with these guys for the last time,” he said. “I’ve grown up with these guys and they helped me get to this point where I’m able to be committed to a school and don’t have to worry about recruiting. I want to try and win a state championship with them.”
Zaire has yet to schedule his official visit to Notre Dame but he hopes to do that soon. He remains in contact with the Irish coaching staff and continues to develop relationships with the other Notre Dame commitments.