Notre Dame 2012 Top 25 countdown: No. 13

Lucky No. 13 is the man with the keys to the offense ...

No. 13: Everett Golson, QB

Making the case: One can look at Golson's first season of playing college football and come to a number of different conclusions. He looked lost at times early in the season, and Tommy Rees had to relieve him in his first two home contests, against Purdue and Michigan. In all, Golson started 11 games and won 10 of them, missing one (BYU) because of a concussion and sitting out the first series of another (Miami) because he was late for a team meeting. He finished the season with a completion percentage of 58.8, throwing for 2,405 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. He rushed for 298 yards and six more scores. His coming-of-age moment, undoubtedly, was the Oct. 27 win at Oklahoma, when Golson led the Irish to 20 fourth-quarter points, netted 241 yards of offense and did not turn the ball over. In the five games following that contest, he threw for 1,437 yards, rushed for 217 more, netted 12 total touchdowns and turned it over just three times. He responded to a yanking against Pitt by leading the Irish to a 14-point fourth-quarter comeback, too. Golson went through an awful lot, and he has plenty of football in front of him, with upward of 39 starts remaining in an Irish uniform over the next three years. His ability to handle the chaos and navigate Notre Dame to the Discover BCS National Championship -- where he was one of the few players who handled the stage and Alabama decently -- cannot be overlooked, and it will likely give him an edge among the rest of the crowded quarterback contingent moving forward.

Preseason ranking: 12

The countdown

No. 14 Cierre Wood, RB

No. 15 Bennett Jackson, CB

No. 16 Tommy Rees, QB

No. 17 DaVaris Daniels, WR

No. 18 Chris Watt, LG

No. 19 George Atkinson III, RB

No. 20 Dan Fox, LB

No. 21 Matthias Farley, S

No. 22 KeiVarae Russell, CB

No. 23 Robby Toma, WR

No. 24 Kyle Brindza, K

No. 25 Chris Brown, WR