Kettering (Ohio) Archbishop Alter's Malik Zaire has already established himself as one of the top Midwest quarterbacks in the 2013 class. Earlier this week he picked up offer No. 7 from the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
"At first I didn't know too much about them, but then I did my research on them and talked to Coach [Tim] Beck, the QB coach and offensive coordinator," Zaire said. "He said a lot of things that made sense to me. He kind of did say all the right things about what he wanted from me, that he could help me with and how the offense could work. They've immediately become one of my top choices because of that."
Ohio State and Wisconsin were Zaire's two previous leaders, but one of those teams has moved out of his top group, and two more have been added.
"My top choices probably right now would be Ohio State, Pitt and Nebraska," Zaire said. "With Nebraska, it's just the opportunity to work with Coach Beck and be in that environment of Memorial Stadium with their great fans."
The 6-1, 190-pound Zaire is a dual-threat quarterback who threw for 729 yards and rushed for 948 yards this past season. Nebraska has featured dual-threat quarterbacks for years, most recently with redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez.
"[Beck] would compare me and Taylor, and also said he wants to open it up a little more with me because he saw I had good fundamentals and good mechanics to throw the ball," Zaire said. "That correlation between me and Taylor and Taylor being a great quarterback for Nebraska really opened my eyes to the opportunities that could happen with Coach."
Pittsburgh has not yet offered Zaire, but head coach Paul Chryst was part of Wisconsin's staff when the Badgers extended an offer to Zaire back in the fall. His move to Pittsburgh is a big reason the Panthers now find themselves in Zaire's top group.
"It's mainly because of Coach Chryst and Coach [Joe] Rudolph," Zaire said. "They were probably the biggest reason I wanted to go to Wisconsin, just to work with those great coaches. They have a lot of things I look for in an offense, and a lot of the same qualities and personalities that I like in a coach."
Ohio State has been a mainstay on Zaire's list since the Buckeyes offered last fall, and he plans to make his next unofficial visit to Columbus.
"I'll be at Ohio State Sunday for their basketball game just to meet up with their coaches again, so that will be pretty cool," Zaire said. "Other than that, I am planning on visiting Nebraska at some point and Pittsburgh at some point for their junior days."
Although Zaire has a good idea of his top contenders, he is not planning a decision any time soon. He may start cutting teams from his list in the spring, and could have his decision made before the start of his senior season.