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Kelly reverses field, says Rees is Notre Dame's starter

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Fighting Irish coach said competition was open recently

Friday, June 7, 2013 - 1:02 am

Well, it's apparent that Notre Dame quarterbacks Malik Zaire and Andrew Hendrix have had a struggling eight days. In that span – five of which they weren't even on campus – the two Fighting Irish football players have been demoted from candidates to compete for a starting position.

In wake of returning starter Everett Golson being suspended for at least the fall semester, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told the Grand Rapids Press on Thursday that senior Tommy Rees would be the Irish starting quarterback this fall.

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

That is the opposite of what the coach said on May 28 when he met with the media via teleconference to discuss the Golson situation.

“We have three quarterbacks,” Kelly said. “Tommy and Andrew have a great deal of experience, and obviously Malik got an opportunity to come in early (in January) and has a great understanding. Those guys will all have an opportunity to compete to be the starter.”

Rees does have the most experience of the three candidates. The senior has played in 34 games over the past three seasons and thrown for over 4,400 yards and 34 touchdowns. However, he has also thrown for 24 interceptions, which was the cause of him losing his job to redshirt freshman Golson last August.

Kelly said recently that Rees has an understanding that if that problem isn't resolved, he won't have an opportunity to play. At least that's what the coach said at the time.

“Tommy knows exactly what the expectations are for him,” Kelly said. “He was a huge part of our undefeated season and he'll be a part of this season as well. He knows what we expect of him on a day-to-day basis, and just like a guy who can't make tackles, he's probably not going to be on the field if he can't tackle, and (Rees) is probably not going to be on the field if he throws interceptions, whether you're Tommy Rees, Malik Zaire or Everett Golson.”

Despite losing the starting job in training camp last summer, Rees still appeared in 12 of Notre Dame's 13 games and completed nearly 58 percent of his passes. However, he did manage to throw as many interceptions (two) as he did touchdowns.

Kelly has a history of utilizing multiple quarterbacks in varying situations and on Thursday, he indicated that is what he is planning on doing this season.

We think Andrew and Malik can contribute,” Kelly explained, “but Tommy will be our starter.”