By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
SOUTH BEND —
A year ago at this time, Tommy Rees’ future as a Notre Dame football player wasn’t looking very bright.
First, Rees was suspended for the 2012 opener against Navy after getting into off-field legal trouble resulting from an underage drinking charge.
Then, he lost the starting quarterback job to sophomore Everett Golson.
Rees saw limited action last year, but in a relief role was responsible for leading the Irish to several victories en route to a 12-0 regular season.
Despite the prospects of spending his senior campaign backing up Golson — the quarterback who led Notre Dame to a late-season No. 1 ranking and the BCS National Championship Game — Rees said on Sunday that transferring was never really an option.
“I signed my letter of intent to come here four years. I love my teammates. I love the school. I’ve got great relationships with the coaches. It really wasn’t a tough decision for me. I wanted to be here,” Rees said, speaking to the media before the Irish left for Marion and the first four days of fall camp at Shiloh Park and Conference Center.
“I wanted to finish my career where I started,” Rees added. “I played last year. I figured I’d go in there, compete, see what happens. I guess sticking around was the right decision.”
Indeed, it seems to have been: Golson is suspended for the 2013 season.
Rees has started 18 games for the Irish over his career, many of those in 2010 — after taking over for an injured Dane Crist — and 2011, when he held the job most of the season. He is 403-of-634 passing in his career in South Bend for 4,413 yards in 33 games, with 34 touchdown passes and 24 interceptions.
Kelly stressed on Friday at his season-opening press conference that Rees was named the starter for the opener against Temple, slated for Saturday, Aug. 31 at Notre Dame Stadium.
Rees said he knows he has to work hard to keep the job. But coming into camp knowing he’s the guy makes a big difference, he said.
“It’s a pretty good feeling. You can do exactly what you want to and you don’t have to worry about competition or what’s going on,” Rees said.
Senior receiver T.J. Jones said he and his teammates have confidence in Rees.
“There’s a different kind of vibe with Tommy this season, the way he carries himself,” Jones said. “He’s a lot more vocal.