It's as important to the DNA of a quarterback as a quick release and the ability to elude.
Presence has been missing at Notre Dame since Jimmy Clausen pilfered his helmet and called it a career.
Brady Quinn had it. Kevin McDougal? Yep, it just took a while to notice. Heck, even Ron Powlus had it until it got knocked out of him late. Rick Mirer had it. Tony Rice defined it.
It wasn't evident Wednesday when Everett Golson and Andrew Hendrix, the two most logical choices to win the Irish starting job, met the media for the first time this preseason.
Hendrix was polite and cliché, just "chopping wood" every day and not focused on anything but the job he's supposed to do.
After being fashionably late, Golson came closer to exposing at least a smidge of his personality. He was poised in the pocket, while about 30 recording devices saved his every syllable for posterity. He didn't try to hide his fascination for the situation.
"It's crazy," Golson said, glancing at the 360-degree throng, then breaking out in laughter. "This could be a little pressure, I guess. You go through it. You've gotta deal with it."
Don't laugh. This is just a gaggle of mostly physically-inept media. Wait 'til a whole bunch of angry muscular specimens start chasing him in front of 80,000 in-house patrons and a national television audience.
Now that's pressure.
Golson, a 6-foot, 185-pound sophomore who didn't play last season, walked away from the Blue-Gold Game last spring as the fans' choice as starter. He completed 11 of 15 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns, while running six times for 30 yards.
Problem is, fans don't have a say in the matter.
"I try to stay as far away from (the hoopla from fans) as possible," Golson said. "You don't want to get too high. You don't want to get too low. The best way to do that is to just let people talk."
Lots of luck doing that. Find a bunker. Hunker down. Don't visit the Internet.
Irish coach Brian Kelly didn't share the fans' evaluation. He marveled at what Golson was able to accomplish, but chided the youngster for doing it outside the framework of the offense.
"Talking with coach Kelly (after last spring), he said I have the art of (playing quarterback), but now I need the science," Golson said. "It was very difficult (to combine the art with the science). With time, preparation, with coach Kelly and (offensive coordinator) coach (Chuck) Martin, it made it so much easier."
Kelly said that, five days into preseason camp, the development of a starting quarterback is still a work in progress. Ball security is an issue this fall. Neither fumbled during Wednesday's practice, the only workout completely open to the media. Hendrix was picked twice, once on a nice play by corner Bennett Jackson and another on a ball tipped by the receiver. Golson's only mistake was a screen pass right in the paws of defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore.
While he was able to keep a few plays alive with his feet, Golson resisted the temptation to break from the pocket and run.
"I want to be more developed in the pocket," Golson said. "That's one of the things I saw I was kind of 'amateur' (coming into this season). I'm always running out of the pocket. I rely on my athleticism. To become more of a complete quarterback, I've gotta stay in the pocket."
To become more of a complete quarterback, Golson has to have a better feel for the function of the offense. He admitted to having difficulty last spring with the signaling of the plays from the sideline.
"I think I'm doing a little bit better," he said of the communication issues. "It's more about the relationship between myself and the signaler. We're getting better.
"(The improvement is) me slowing down, don't try to be too antsy -- but still work at a quick pace."
There's art and there's science when it comes to the position.
But don't sell presence short.