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June 6, 2013

Kelly looks toward Rees

The surprise would have been if Brian Kelly hadn't returned to Tommy Rees.

And in an off-season of surprises, it appears Notre Dame probably won't have another one, at least at quarterback.

In comments Wednesday during Grand Valley's Enrichment Dinner in Grand Rapids, as reported by the Grand Rapids Press, Kelly renamed Tommy Rees his starting quarterback in the aftermath of Everett Golson's season-long suspension for academic misconduct.

"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. We think Andrew Hendrix and Malik Zaire can contribute, but Tommy will be our starter."

Just a week earlier Kelly suggested all three of his scholarship quarterbacks would be in the running for the starting job, mentioning Rees, Hendrix and Zaire as possibilities. However, it's Rees who's started 18 games during his career and helped direct wins over Purdue, Michigan and Stanford last season in relief.

Hendrix has never started a game in three years at Notre Dame. He played in just three games last season. Throw out Navy when Rees was suspended and Hendrix finished 1-of-2 passing for two yards. He saw action against only Navy, BYU and Wake Forest.

Zaire would appear to be the longest shot entering the summer, although the early enrollee impressed the coaching staff during spring. Offensive coordinator Chuck Martin called Zaire one of the most mentally advanced freshman quarterbacks Kelly has ever coached.

"Well, we've got three quarterbacks as you know in Tommy and Andrew that have a great deal of experience. Obviously Malik got an opportunity to come in early, has got a good understanding," Kelly said just three days after the Golson suspension. "So those guys will all have an opportunity to compete to be the starter."

That competition may have ended sooner than anyone expected.


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