Pre-spring breakdown: Quarterbacks

With spring practice just more than a week away, we'll go down the depth chart this week and size up what to watch for at each position.

We start today with the quarterbacks.

Starters returning: Everett Golson, Tommy Rees

Players returning: Golson, Rees, Andrew Hendrix

Players departing: Gunner Kiel (transfer)

Newcomers: Malik Zaire

The breakdown: The Kiel departure remains unofficial, though that should change in the very near future. Golson has the leg up on all entering spring and looks like Notre Dame's quarterback of the future after guiding the Irish to a 10-1 record as a starter last season. As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Golson completed 58.8 percent of his passes for 2,405 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. He rushed it 94 times for 298 yards with six more touchdowns but lost four fumbles, though all came over the season's first six games.

Rees is taken for granted by most but remains an invaluable piece to the program as he enters his senior season. Sixteen starts preceded a May 2012 arrest that ultimately cost him a shot to open the campaign as a starter, but he more than made up for it by saving the Irish late three times over their first six games and starting two others. He completed 57.6 percent of his passes for 436 yards with two touchdowns (one rushing) and two picks.

Hendrix remains the wild card. While the departure of Kiel will only help him in his battle for playing time, he trails Golson and Rees in the experience department but has the arm strength, speed and size that any coach would desire. He appeared in three games last season and completed 5 of 7 throws for 55 yards while rushing it eight times for 41 yards. The pre-med major is entering his fourth year at the school and has a fifth-year option available after not playing during his first fall on campus. Given his tools, the crowded position battle and the undergraduate degree likely coming his way in the near future, Hendrix would surprise no one if he followed Dayne Crist's steps for his fifth year and played at another school. Then again, Kiel is out of the picture, Brian Kelly is never shy about pulling his quarterbacks and far crazier things have happened than watching a guy jump from No. 3 to No. 1. Especially at Notre Dame.

Zaire, an ESPN300 prospect, enrolled in January. The southpaw is a four-star dual-threat signal-caller from Archbishop Alter High School (Kettering, Ohio).