NOTRE DAME -

A smile flashed across Everett Golson's face during the opening drill on Monday, telling you all you need to know about the first day of spring practice at Notre Dame.

"It feels great," Golson said after Monday's first practice of the spring. "Just being back here and having that comraderie with my teammates."

The senior QB is back. And everyone in the program is happy about it.

"He looked great," said tight end Ben Koyack. "It's great having him out here again. Not too many people throw a fastball like he does."

For the first time in 11 months, Golson was back under center at Notre Dame, and showed no signs of rust.

"Everett stepped in there and the tempo of the offense was outstanding," head coach Brian Kelly raved, after Golson's first practice with the team in nearly 11 months.

"For a first day, it was really exciting for me to watch him get back in there and look as though he was with us last year."

Golson's physical transformation over the last several months is obvious.

"I'm fifteen pounds heavier. I think it makes me more durable," Golson tells, insisting the added weight does not slow him down. "I'm able to still move. I think I actually got a little faster. I feel good with the weight I'm at."

"Everett looked awesome," junior DB Mathias Farley raved after practice. " He was throwing the ball so hard. He looked really good. Smooth."

Golson has grown not just as a player, but as a person.

"My maturity level is different now. I had time to sit and think about what I did and how I can move forward from that. I think I'm a different person because of it."

The question still to be answered is:

Will Golson's growth, be enough to lead the Irish back to the championship game, like he did as a sophomore?

"We're going to keep a lot on his shoulders, and he knows it," Brian Kelly says. "That's why he came back to Notre Dame., because he wants that opportunity. He's going to be the guy who drives this for us."

Like coach says: it's exactly what Golson wants.

"I don't feel any pressure. I feel like that is where I want to be. I want to be in the front and lead these guys to victory."