When quarterback Everett Golson returns to the practice field, coach Brian Kelly isn’t just going to hand back over the keys to the program.

Kelly put Golson on notice Friday by heaping praise on freshman quarterback Malik Zaire and issuing a warning to the Irish.

“I just want to caution everybody that we have I think a very good quarterback in Malik Zaire,” Kelly said. “I’m not ready to hand everything over to Everett. I love Everett, he played in the national championship game, but I’m also somebody that wants to make sure the quarterback position is such that we give everybody an opportunity to compete for that position.”

No doubt, Kelly is hoping to light a fire under both in saying the job is up for grabs, but it would be quite the upset if Zaire were to overtake Golson on the depth chart.

Kelly indicated Golson is on the right path to return and said he is in good shape physically but added Zaire was ready to challenge for the job.

“We lost him a little bit, quite honestly,” Kelly said of Zaire, who did not play last season. “When he sees himself as No. 3-and-a-half (on the depth chart) and not getting in and not getting a lot of reps, you lose a kid’s concentration a little bit and we lost him there for about four or five games. Once we got his attention back, it was clear he had a pretty good knowledge base of what we wanted to do.”

Kelly said both will be integral in his wish to make the Irish’s offense “more dynamic outside the pocket” and that was one of the reasons he is reassuming play-calling duties.

“We’re transitioning back to an offense I feel is best-suited for the personnel we have. I think it’s important to really get that to be an influence back in the offense,” Kelly said. “Once we’re able to lay that in there, I think it will give everybody a great visual look of what we want that offense to look like and I think it starts with me.