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Kelly names Rees starting quarterback

Jun 6, 2013, 1:40 AM EDT

Rees Kelly

Editors Note: While there’s no doubt that Rees will be the starting quarterback against Temple, the headline of this story has been tweaked to be a little less definitive, as talking at a banquet hardly construes an official announcement.

UPDATE: It appears that Kelly did more than hint at Rees being the frontrunner for the starting job. Per an updated write-thru by Steve Kaminski at, Kelly clarified his stance that Rees is indeed going to be the starting quarterback, at least heading into fall camp.

The quote has been adjusted in the body of the story.


Brian Kelly wasn’t comfortable naming a starting quarterback last week. Tasked with replacing Everett Golson after an academic suspension cost him the 2013 season, Kelly punted when asked who will take over behind center, instead willing to give seniors Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix and true freshman Malik Zaire a chance to win the job.

But when speaking at a gathering at Grand Valley, where Kelly built his professional life and coaching career, he identified Rees as his starting quarterback. The decision shouldn’t be a surprise, but it begins to clarify the offensive game plan moving forward.

According to, Kelly discussed the state of the Irish football program after being honored with the Leadership Award during Grand Valley’s Enrichment Dinner.

“We always move forward,” Kelly said, via “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.”

“We are under construction right now,” Kelly added. “It’s 2013, and we are putting our football team together. But the foundation is there, just like it was there at Grand Valley and when we left Central Michigan and Cincinnati. We think we have a good foundation.”

Rees has spent his fair share of time in the starting lineup for the Irish, winning the final four games of the 2010 season before taking over for Dayne Crist at halftime of the season opener and playing out the rest of 2011’s 8-5 campaign. When turnovers doomed an Irish offensive that was the most explosive of Kelly’s era in South Bend in 2011, the head coach adopted a new, more conservative offensive philosophy, one that he road to the BCS Championship game, even with a rookie quarterback starting and Rees playing the role of super sub.

Somebody has to start as No. 1 on the depth chart heading into offseason conditioning, so this headline shouldn’t surprise people, nor should the timing. That said, expect Kelly to prepare all three arms with a package that could help the Irish win. For Rees, that’s a veteran signal caller that’s got a mastery of the offense. For Hendrix, it’s hopefully taking advantage of his size and power. An with Zaire, the Irish have a dangerous option trigger man who is also impressing both Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin with his grasp of the offense.

Still, it’s Rees’ job heading into summer voluntary workouts — not exactly a surprise for one of the team’s leaders and most experienced offensive players. But after meeting with members of the team after they returned to South Bend, it appears that Kelly is confident that Rees can get past the turnovers that plagued him two seasons ago and play good enough football to win games.

123 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. 25kgold - Jun 6, 2013 at 6:23 PM

    *Soap Opera, yeah I know…

  2. cpfirish - Jun 6, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    I will say it once again! I have never been a TR fan. I like the guy for his loyalty to the program and his teammates. I think we still can pull off ten wins this year with him at the helm. It’s our defense that will win us games just like last year. If TR can cut down the TO’s and manage the clock and of course ( check us into the right plays)…. Then we should be just fine. I would really like to see MZ step up and just because he is a freshmen doesn’t mean shit! Look at jonny football. MZ may not start out the season as the starter but by the end if the year he will be at the helm! BK is not stupid he knows what it takes to win games and he knows that TR has a low ceiling and his offense is very vanilla with him. Malik Zaire show is about to start! Haha. Go Irish!!

    • 1notredamefan - Jun 6, 2013 at 6:45 PM

      Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Eli Manning,…. on and on and on…. contrary to popular belief the running QB is brand spankin new! Randall Cunningham made It fun to watch, Steve Young made It become a realization! Tommy 20 years ago would have been revered!! Enjoy the show this year!!

      • irish4006 - Jun 7, 2013 at 12:33 PM

        ” Tommy 20 years ago would have been revered!! ” errr… What?

        So you are saying, if we had Manning (either one), Brady, Montana or Bradshaw, these dumbass ND coaches would have them benched in favor of Golson (in 2012) only because he was a runner and be worried to death now for the upcoming season?

        What is your draft prediction for Tommy?

      • wisner74 - Jun 7, 2013 at 12:52 PM

        1notredamefan – I am a Rees defender on this site, but even I have to say “Huh?” to your statement that Rees would have been revered 20 years ago. I think that goes a bit too far.

        Additionally, perhaps you are too young to remember QBs like Fran Tarkenton.

      • c4evr - Jun 9, 2013 at 6:43 PM

        Anyone else here scratching their head as to why Kelly’s entering his 4th year and he’s still relying on a QB that Weis recruited?? And more than likely, the next man in will be a Weis guy. If I recall, Rees was a 3 star coming out of high school and the 4 and 5 star guys are gone or watching from the sideline. Perhaps Kelly should listen to his own creed and get an RKG QB NTA (next time around) regardless of the stars next to their name.

  3. yllibnosredna - Jun 6, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    As a kid, I remember balancing my interest in ND football and College Football in general much better throughout the course of the year. I recall only really paying attention to the team from August to December–maybe January–depending on the bowl in which we landed and the new coach we may have hired. It seemed to be a much healthier approach (particularly because a large part of that period was rife with gridiron failures and coaching incompetence), and I find that it limited my irrational obsession with ND football to just a season or two. With all the chaos, hysteria, false hope, and inaccurate speculation that has accompanied the past couple of off seasons, I’m beginning to really question the value of paying the slightest bit of attention to ND football (and CFB in general) from January to July.

    • wisner74 - Jun 7, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      But you’ve got to agree with 25kgold, it really is a soap opera. Kind of entertaining in a weird sort of way.

    • ibleedirish - Jun 8, 2013 at 9:22 AM

      Very well said. I should take your wise words and apply them to my life. I should get outdoors more, read books, etc. I should lay off the ND drama. I should, but I won’t. I just can’t quit you Notre Dame! I’m an addict.

  4. 1notredamefan - Jun 6, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    I haven’t been postin for a while and notice quit a few newbies… Welcome and I’m happy to see the new names!!! “The secret” Keep thinkin negative as a whole ND family and negative will become us!!

    • c4evr - Jun 7, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      How very Zen of you

  5. irishaggie - Jun 6, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    Im 21. So i haven’t seen all the great Notre Dame seasons nor do I know a lot of the great players people on these boards bring up. In the 11 years that I have been a true die hard Notre Dame fan I have never witnessed such a fast offseason as this one. If there are any positives to this chaotic offseason is that with all this news popping up daily. We dont even realize we are less than 90 days ’til kickoff.

    By the way, as much bad news as we’ve had. You know the university loves it. Notre Dame has had the most publicity by far than any other school (including Alabama) since last August. I swear we’ve been on every sports talk show for the past four months.

    • papadec - Jun 7, 2013 at 9:36 PM

      irishaggie – so look at it this way – in 50 years, guys like bern, hist, me, a bunch of the others, will be long gone. Our kids, grandkids, greatgrandkids & you will be welcoming the 20 year old posters and sharing your collective wisdom & memories. Although, I’m not so sure anyone will be able to replace bern & his parsing semantics. Welcome to the ride – it does get a bit hairy, at times.

      • steeldominance - Jun 7, 2013 at 9:59 PM

        So grandiose. You act like you, bern, and 1hist are some sort of elite group of ND posters. Really, you are just huge homers who stick together by constantly commenting on each others post and logging on give each other thumbs up. Nobody here reveres you, except maybe yourselves. get over it.

      • ibleedirish - Jun 8, 2013 at 9:26 AM

        Who said anyone was revere-ing or was revered. Papadec is being friendly. You could learn a lesson. Go be a miserable sob elsewhere.

  6. rrussellndfan - Jun 6, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    Zaire will end up starting. Next year if Golson doesn’t return he will more than likely be the only scholarship QB left. I love TR. But for the future of the program Zaire needs to be worked into the starting role.

  7. rrussellndfan - Jun 6, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    O yeah, people who say look at Manziel, He’s a redshirt sophomore which means he wasn’t a true freshman last year. HUGE difference. Zaire will be a true freshman. I wish him the best.

    • irishpuma - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:04 AM

      actually not a true freshman since he was an early enrollee. You are splitting hairs frosh vs. redshirt frosh..but to clarify Zaire is a Frosh and a half….in between true frosh and red shirt frosh…..

      • dillonbigred - Jun 7, 2013 at 12:42 PM

        I think the difference is more than splitting hairs. There are what, 15 spring practices? Compare that to summer workouts, fall camp, a season of games and practices, bowl practices, and then the winter weight training and spring practices. I think a redshirt year is a big advantage.

      • irishpuma - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:28 PM

        Definitely in some cases but for a QB the summer weight stuff is not as important considering Zaire is already bigger in size and at least same arm strength as Golson. My point is Zaire is not a true freshman and he will have had spring ball, summer and camp to prepare…not ideal but better than a kid who flew out in July…..the factor you are missing is that whether a freshman or red shirt freshman or freshman and a half it is all the same none of them have seen any live game action. watching a year only goes so far. Check this article out it goes to my point that he should play now.

        63% agree from the poll.

  8. 25kgold - Jun 7, 2013 at 12:11 AM

    Irish Go!

  9. dermmite - Jun 7, 2013 at 12:33 AM

    Fuck all you Tommy Haters! Boy is going shine this year

  10. 25kgold - Jun 7, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    Reggie Ho! Enough Said:

  11. irishpuma - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:02 AM



    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:11 AM

      Ironic that you talk about how great the team was and the first thing that comes to mind is the special teams play.

      Sure would like to see some of that in the 2013 season. We can find dozens of things that haven’t gone well in the BK tenure if we want to, but I think the real headscratcher is the special teams play.

      Kickoff – mediocre
      Punting – Horrible
      Punt Return – doesn’t exist
      Kick return – mediocre

      Part of it can be attributed to play makers (or lack thereof), but I gotta believe that a pile of it is gameplan/strategy/coaching

      • irishpuma - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:13 AM

        could not agree more. It is a big part of the game that we are not taking part in.

      • wisner74 - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:01 PM

        It is a major curiosity. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a quantum leap in the special teams this Fall?

  12. almoose - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    Kelly has made progress with his temper and the team will benefit. The QB thing will be OK. I also say move on from Golson. Don’t want to see this again next year. The College gives help to the players to make the grade and he did not. I am tired of the distractions of the last two years. I know kids get into trouble at all schools but man ND has had some big ones! I do believe they will go 9 and 3 this year and have an interesting Bowl opportunity. I know I can be wrong and some will criticize this but so be it. Kelly has more opportunities to make the club better and his decision to name Rees allows for concentration on the Defense which has improved.

  13. c4evr - Jun 7, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    I find it humorous that everyone here is quick to throw Tommy Rees under the bus without considering that he was a true freshman whose play was molded by BK’s gunslinger approach in his first year. Hello, Tulsa anyone? If you want someone to blame, blame the architect – Kelly. He likes Rees, IMO, because TR is a reflection of the coach, brash and arrogant. And on the bright side for you TR haters, now that he’s been named starter again, he’s got the whole summer to get drunk and punch somebody. And please… no more talk of a 2 QB system. When it’s run out of necessity and not luxury, it’s not a 2 QB system.

    • wisner74 - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:09 PM

      Lots of folks here are not throwing TR under the bus.

      I kind of agree re the the 2 QB system. I am certainly not used to seeing two QBs playing meaningful minutes in the same game. But I think Kelly does a good job with it. I do not like it, though, when he changes QBs in the same series, which I hope he has gotten away from. Disastrous result in the USC game two years ago: Irish ball inside the USC five-yard line, Crist, then Hendrix, then back to Crist, then 98-yard fumble return for a TD. End of story.

      I can’t recall if BK did any of that last season. I hope he’s thrown that maneuver out the window.

  14. nicenirish - Jun 7, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    So I guess if Tommy is the starter this year we can go ahead and give up any chance of running the option offense.

  15. papadec - Jun 7, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    The defense will be better, the OLine will be better, the RBs will be just fine (at least one over 1,000 yds wouldn’t surprise me), the receivers will make some great plays, Special Teams will be a very pleasant surprise, Kelly will make the appropriate QB call (each game) depending on who, & where, we play. Oh, what? Time to take my meds? Thank you, nurse. Now, where was I? Oh yeah. I’m putting my money on ND! GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. steeldominance - Jun 7, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    If TR is the starter, so be it. Hopefully after the clutch games he had last year and the additional time under Kelly he has moved past his turnover problem. I hope he stays #1 ND qb all year and puts up a respectable year. Thats all we need with our D and running attack to have a great year. That being said, if he sucks it up hard in the beginning of the season and we drop two games in our first 5, put Zaire in, get him some experience and look forward to a great 2014 season.

  17. ndgoldandblue - Jun 8, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Tommy Rees is Brian Kelly’s security blanket. They both came to Notre Dame the same year, and for some reason (probably justified) BK has been enamored with Rees. From day one, Kelly has loved him, and he has been the only one that BK has been able to fully trust. But, next year, the guy is gone, and Kelly will have to put his trust in someone not named Tommy Rees. I don’t know if the guy can do that.

    Starting next year, we may see a quarterback carousel that has no end in sight, and that’s my fear. I know that BK wants guys to compete, but I’m not sure it’s a good thing for a starting quarterback to be constantly looking over his shoulder or toward the sidelines out of fear of being pulled. Oh well, that’s a discussion we can wait for next year to have. As for this year, in Tommy we trust.

  18. fnc111 - Jun 8, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    This might be one of those 6-6 seasons now. I thought EG was decent at best but the QBs left on the roster are poor. The D will play stout but if the offense can’t move the rock at all then that D will get worn down.

    Locked in losses right now: Michigan, Oklahoma, ASU, Pitt, Stanford.

    That’s 7-5. Kelly’s addiction to TR or bad play calling will cost them at least another game…. MSU? USC?

  19. cpfirish - Jun 8, 2013 at 8:49 PM


    C’mon man really? 7-5? No way We won’t lose to Pitt or ASU.! 10-2 is more like it.

  20. papadec - Jun 9, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    I would love to see TR pull a phoenix & finally shut his haters up. I don’t really care who starts at what position, as long as the Irish win the NC – and shut the ND haters up!

  21. fredshaheen - Jun 10, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    I’ve posted a link to a column recently published in the Las Vegas Review Journal. Nothing really new but a different look at the impact Golson is having on a broader subject regarding college football this season.

  22. upthera44 - Jun 12, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    Sometimes freshman can step up big, maybe Zaire will be a Marcus Mariota next year? People talk about freshman as virtual impossibilities, but its easy to forget that there have been plenty of rather good true freshman quarterbacks.

  23. ndrick731 - Jun 12, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    He will be the starter until he reaches double digit interceptions. That should take about 4 games.

  24. loadofwash - Jun 12, 2013 at 10:58 PM

    Ok, what’s the total on int’s 23654?

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