Tag: Tommy Rees

Rees USC

Tommy Rees to begin coaching career at Northwestern


Tommy Rees will begin his coaching career close to where his football career began. Rees, who played in all four of his seasons at Notre Dame from 2010-13, will be an offensive graduate assistant at Northwestern.

Multiple media sources are reporting the news, including Football Scoop and SI.com. A source close to Rees also confirmed the news, with Rees set to begin work in January.

Before coming to Notre Dame, Rees played high school football in Lake Forest, just 30 miles north of the Northwestern campus. He’ll work under Wildcats offensive coordinator Mick McCall and head coach Pat Fitzgerald.

Rees’ father, an accomplished football coach and executive who spent time with UCLA and the Chicago Bears among his many stops, also spent time at Northwestern. There were rumors that Rees was also considering a GA opportunity at UCLA, where his brother also played football.

Brian Kelly left the door open after Rees’ graduation of the cerebral quarterback’s return to campus as a GA. Rees will instead start his coaching career at Northwestern.


Rees discussing the the challenge from Mattison’s defense

Everett Golson

No coach taking part in Saturday’s game understands the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry better than Greg Mattison. The Wolverines’ defensive coordinators, one of the highest-paid assistants in college football, has been on both sides of the game, spending eight years in South Bend before eventually returning to Michigan to join his friend Brady Hoke.

Every year, Mattison has brought something different against Notre Dame. And with the chess match likely continuing Saturday night against Brian Kelly, Mike Denbrock and Everett Golson, Kelly understands that the Irish need to be ready for anything.

“There is a bit of unpredictability with Greg. I think he keeps you off balance,” Kelly said. “I think you have to be prepared for, in certain situations, you’re going to see a little bit of everything from loaded bear fronts to exotic pressures.

“So I think you’re spending time in making sure that you have answers to a lot of different pressure situations. He makes you stay up late wondering about where those pressures may come from.”

No stranger to those late nights is former Irish quarterback Tommy Rees.

The former Irish quarterback is now ready for life after quarterbacking, getting set to embark on a coaching career that’ll likely start this January as a Graduate Assistant. Set to be back on campus for an experience that’ll likely be “very weird,” Rees was kind enough to spend some time talking Xs and Os before the big game.

“I don’t want to give away too much stuff,” Rees told me, seconds after describing a defensive look that featured terminology like “seven up,” “three down,” and “double overhangs.”

So while many of the particulars about the game inside the game were off the record (Rees still sounds like a coach, even though that journey won’t start for a few months), he was able to help clarify what it was that makes Mattison so difficult to deal with.

“It’s deception,” Rees explained. “He has a mantra of being a pressure guy and when he shows you a pressure look, it can be even on each side and you can’t really tell where it’s coming from.

“He is really good on situations and where to pressure, where to show it. I remember watching his old Ravens tape from when he was there. I couldn’t tell where any of this stuff was coming from at all.

“But then as the week went on we slowly got it, but it was tough. The second and third year we really understood it and we had a couple wrinkles in that worked out… For me personally, I always loved going into that game because it was a chance for me to really have a chess match with the defensive coordinator.”

That chess match didn’t always end up going Notre Dame’s way. But that accumulated knowledge, and play calls and downs that still seem burned to memory are now Golson’s responsibility.

It’s worth noting that Notre Dame didn’t struggle to move the ball against the Wolverines. In their two losses, Rees threw for over 300 yards in both, with the Irish offense averaging roughly 460 yards in the two defeats. But the ability for Mattison to bring a new look in a critical moment, and to cause game-changing turnovers put the Irish in circumstances not conducive to winning.

Golson’s first matchup with Mattison was a one-sided defeat. Pulled in the second quarter, the young quarterback showed a rare time where he didn’t seem up for the moment. That fact has been lost in the glowing memories from that magical season, but Golson likely played the worst game of his football career that evening.

He threw an interception on his first attempt of the game, burying the Irish deep in their own territory. And he finished 3 of 8 for 30 yards and two interceptions, with a mind-boggling end zone interception getting him the hook.

“I’ve been there,” Rees said.

But Golson is a different quarterback than the young player he was in 2012. And armed with a solid running game and some explosive receiving threats, Saturday night will be the biggest mental challenge Golson’s faced as the leader of the Irish offense.

“Handling the different looks you’re going to get,” Rees explained. “A lot of those looks come in critical situations, whether it be a 3rd down or down in the red zone. Handling those and handling the pressure and the exotic (looks) that he’s going to give you.”

It’s hard to gather too much from one game against an opponent like Rice. But Rees saw an improved quarterback on Saturday. While most point to the highlight reel plays that produced five touchdowns, Rees focused on some of the other facets of his game that looked significantly cleaner.

“I think he was way more polished on the throws that are in the rhythm of the offense,” Rees said. “He threw a good skinny post to Corey and he was on rhythm and on time. You can tell that he’s much more comfortable and that he knows the offense, knows the defense and that he was able to make those completions.”

Golson’s going to need to be. Because even with a Michigan defense battling injuries at multiple positions, the senior quarterback is going to need to expect the unexpected from Mattison.

“He’ll have something in for Notre Dame. He has something that they’ve been working on that they didn’t show,” Rees said. “I promise you they have a look that they didn’t show App State that they’ll have ready for Notre Dame. When that comes, handling that, learning that and adjusting to that will be key.”

Shembo, Jackson and Jones selected on Day Three of NFL Draft

Prince Shembo

Prince Shembo, Bennett Jackson and TJ Jones were all selected on the third day of the NFL Draft, making that eight former Notre Dame players selected in the 2014 draft. That’s the highest total in 20 years, when Lou Holtz’s squad produced 10 selections. Notre Dame’s eight selections were second to only LSU and matched Alabama’s.

Shembo was the first player to come off the board on the draft’s third day, selected in the fourth round with the 139th pick by the Atlanta Falcons. While Shembo spent much of the offseason circuit showcasing his versatility, the Falcons hope he can go back to what put him on the map originally at Notre Dame, rushing the passer.

In what might be a bit of a surprise, Jackson came off the board next. Selected in the sixth round with the 187th overall pick, the New York Giants took a shot on the Irish captain, who had a subpar senior season but still impressed the Giants with both his tangible and intangible traits.

“We think he’s on the come, he has some intangibles that we like, height, weight speed, we think we can hit on a guy like this who comes in,” Giants GM Jerry Reese said. “He’s the guy who’s a leader, can play on all your special teams while he’s still developing into a corner.”

Jackson is heading home, growing up in nearby Hazlet, New Jersey. Interestingly, former Notre Dame personnel man Tim McDonnell is now with the Giants as a scout, so he likely had some input in Jackson’s scouting report.

Last off the board for the Irish was wide receiver and team captain TJ Jones. Selected by the Lions just two picks after Jackson, Jones will join Golden Tate in Detroit’s receiving corps, with an eye on the third receiver job behind All-Pro Calvin Johnson.

“Very impressed by him,” Lions GM Martin Mayhew said about Jones. “Clutch guy. Play maker for (Notre Dame). Converted a lot of third downs and he was a guy they went to in the red area. I like him as a slot guy, running inside getting separation. I thought he had really good hands and really crisp routes.”

Jones probably stayed on the draft board longer than most expected, but is heading to a place that could be very good for him. He’ll have a familiar friend at the position in Tate and will have the opportunity to compete, all you can ask for as a sixth round pick.

The rest of Notre Dame’s draft-eligible prospects signed free agent contracts. George Atkinson signed with the Oakland Raiders, the team where his father played and currently works on the radio broadcast team. Carlo Calabrese signed with the Cleveland Browns. Dan Fox heads to New York, joining Jackson with the Giants. Tommy Rees signed with the Washington Redskins and Kona Schwenke signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.