In an interview with The Grand Rapids Press, Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly made it official: senior Tommy Rees is the team’s starting quarterback, following the dismissal of Everett Golson last month.
I don’t live in the past, and I don’t spend too much time in the future. I live in the present, and in the present, we have Tommy Rees. We have Tommy Rees, who is an established player, and he will be our starter. We think Andrew Hendrix and Malik Zaire can contribute, but Tommy will be our starter.
Moving on from the past might be a positive for Kelly, because the past for Rees is spotty. He lost his starting job in the 2012 off-season after an arrest. Rees’ job security was in doubt before the May 2012 incident, though.
The Irish had redshirt freshman Golson waiting. A dual-threat quarterback, Golson was better suited to Kelly’s offensive scheme. Notre Dame also welcomed five-star prospect Gunner Kiel into the fold. Both pressured Rees, who was coming off a 14-interception 2011 season, during spring practices.
Rees did log significant snaps during the Fighting Irish’s undefeated 2012 regular season, however. He led a game-winning drive against Purdue in Week 2, and gave the Notre Dame offense a different look when Golson struggled. Still, his completion percentage was down significantly (from 65.5 to 57.6) and he threw as many interceptions as touchdowns (two apiece).
Kelly’s assertion that Rees is the clear starter ends speculation that celebrated recruit Zaire would move into Golson’s spot. Zaire is another two-way quarterback. He generated buzz following the Blue-Gold spring game, wherein he threw a touchdown pass to C.J. Prosise. Zaire and Hendrix are both capable rushing threats out of shotgun sets.
The off-season has been rocky for Notre Dame’s quarterback situation. Kiel transferred to Cincinnati in the spring, and denied rumors of a possible return to South Bend in the wake of Golson’s dismissal.