Tommy Rees has the game experience, but is he the right choice for the Irish in 2012?
Four quarterbacks have a chance at landing one of the most prestigious positions in college football: quarterback for Notre Dame. This year, Brian Kelly will have the luxury (or inconvenience) of choosing between Everett Golson, Andrew Hendrix, Gunner Kiel and Tommy Rees.
Last year, Rees beat out now-transfer Dayne Crist for the coveted position. This year, he's got more competition, and his record is against him. In 2011, Notre Dame threw the sixth-most interceptions in college football when Rees was at the helm.
So, who will the quarterback be in 2012?
Coach Kelly told USA Today that "Tommy would be ahead of everybody by the knowledge base," giving Rees the edge in the "experience" department. Kelly also said that "it's important that all four of them get an opportunity to, number one, understand the offense and be able to run it effectively."
It is obvious that Rees has the advantage in this competition, but there is no denying that the other three are talented quarterbacks.
Golson is the fan favorite. He was a redshirt in 2011 as a freshman, but he has the potential to be a great quarterback. He won the Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year award last season. He doesn't have any game experience, but he gives coach Kelly a spread quarterback that can run the football.
Hendrix is the proverbial dark horse candidate in the Notre Dame quarterback race. What he gives up to Golson in terms of mobility he makes up for with his knowledge of the offense. It is worth noting that he is more mobile than the incumbent Rees. This will be his third season at Notre Dame.
Who do you want as the quarterback for Notre Dame next season?
Kiel may be the popular pick outside of South Bend simply because of name recognition. He's the top-ranked quarterback in the 2012 recruiting class and comes from a family known for football. However, Kiel would have to dominate spring practice for coach Kelly to not administer a redshirt to the talented frosh. Kiel has the intangibles, but his game is far from polished.
Rees may not be the most pleasing option for Fighting Irish fans, and his 16 games as a starter haven't shown much promise. He has improved in terms of scrambling, but his decision-making may hold him back.
That aspect is one that will be toughest for offensive coordinator Chuck Martin and coach Kelly to evaluate before the season starts: decision-making. Improvement in interceptions thrown is a must for the upcoming season.
With the Blue-Gold Spring Football Game just 10 days away, all four of these quarterbacks still have a shot to be the starting quarterback. April 21 will give each signal-caller a stage on which to demonstrate why they deserve the job. Rees has an edge in game experience, but watch out for Golson, Hendrix and Kiel. Each owns the talent to win the job.
We may have to wait until the season starts for coach Kelly to make a decision. Nevertheless, the Blue-Gold game will be a huge indicator as to who has the edge heading into the regular season.