Notre Dame Football: Does Tommy Rees Have a Future in South Bend?
Tommy Rees is a living dichotomy.
He is both sides of the coin, yin and yang, hot and cold, loved and hated.
It is hard to remember a Notre Dame player that seemed to live on both sides of the line.
Seemingly one season's savior stepping in for an injured Dayne Crist and leading the Irish to an improbable finish and a bowl win in his freshman season, then the next season's goat as terrifically inconsistent play crippled an otherwise talented offense and wasted a superb defense on the way to second-straight 8-5 mark.
The fanbase at large had completely lost patience with the youngster, tired of watching throws forced into double- and triple-coverage kill Irish momentum and spark the opposition.
Rees displayed accuracy and intelligence at times, often finding the right receiver open on the right route for the required yardage. Often on the next play he would feel pressure, lob a wounded duck at a blanketed Michael Floyd (or sometimes to no one in particular) and suffer a turnover.
He was touted by head coach Brian Kelly as the QB who best protects the football, but he alone had more turnovers than the majority of other teams.
Sometimes he would stand in the pocket, cool under the pressure of the moment and deliver a big pass in a big spot. Other times, he would come entirely unhinged at the slightest hint of a blitz or collapsing pocket.
Still, to listen to the coaching staff, not only was Rees suddenly a credible quarterback, but seemingly a probable leader to start again.
Even with physical specimen Andrew Hendrix who displayed his superb running abilities and strong arm (albeit inconsistent aim) gaining meaningful playing time, and sophomore-to-be Everett Golson with his all around strong potential waiting for a chance Rees was mentioned as an equal.
Somehow, Rees was not only still relevant, but somehow still the leader in the quarterback room.
Then came spring.
It started at the annual Blue and Gold spring game.
Rees looked uncomfortable all day, missing many easy throws, hitting 7-of-14 for 84 yards and throwing a simply terrible interception on an overthrow into traffic.
At times he had difficulty lining up the offense, leading to a delay penalty and a forced timeout.
On the day Rees looked to be the third best signal-caller on the field, as Hendrix found more success and Golson dominated the day.
For the first time since halftime of the ill-fated South Florida game to kick off the 2011 campaign, Rees seemed to be loosing his grip on the starting quarterback spot.
Does Tommy Rees have any chance of being the starting QB this year?
Rees' difficult spring became potentially insurmountable in the wee hours of May 3 when he and linebacker Carlo Calabrese were chased, drunk, from a campus party by South Bend police. In the chase Rees is reported to have struck an officer, resulting in the generally meek quarterback's arrest on felony assault charges.
Yesterday Rees plead guilty to a lessened set of misdemeanor charges receiving a 30-day commuted sentence, along with 11 months probation and 50 hours of community service.
In the plea agreement, Rees dodged the first bullet of jail time, and for the moment remains a student of the university and a member of the football team.
Before any discussion of Rees' on-field future can continue, he must go before the Office Resident Life, the punitive arm of Notre Dame's administration.
While it is likely that Rees will not be dismissed from the university, it is likely that he will face some form of suspension from the football program.
In Rees' position, engaged in a minimum three-way competition for the quarterback position and having been seemingly passed by both Hendrix and Golson in the spring game any missed time will more than likely spell doom for the junior's chances of starting.
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