Rookie: Early Enrollee freshman Malik Zaire.
Position Coach -- Brian Kelly: The 2012 promotion of Chuck Martin from safeties coach to offensive coordinator freed Kelly for more one-on-one work and instruction with his quarterbacks last fall.
Established Stars: None. Rees is one of the most seasoned quarterbacks in the college game, working as the team's main quarterback in 19 games over the last three seasons plus another four in which he played a key role. That's 23 of 39 Kelly-era games heavily involving Rees' participation (he's appeared in 34 overall).
Camp Buzz: Its still about Rees, though fans and media will want to crucial tidbits of information: is fellow senior Andrew Hendrix going to play a key backup role, or is he merely the definitive back-up quarterback to Rees, the full-game starter? And secondly, will Zaire see the field in non-emergent situations?
The Battle is Between… Hendrix and Zaire for a backup role. I believe Kelly will play three quarterbacks and that if either Hendrix or Zaire wins the No. 2 role definitively, that player will contribute weekly -- Rees is mentally equipped to handle the Kelly-fueled unique roll of yo-yo unlike any other.
Wither? Everett Golson. Especially if Rees goes down and either Hendrix (eligible through 2014) or Zaire shines in his stead. Would a 12-1 team led by Hendrix, Zaire, or even more enticing, both, welcome back the quarterback that let them down before the season began? The guess here is that Golson comes back and leads the Irish huddle again next spring, summer, and for the next two falls.
BCS Dreams Because... Rees is experienced, accurate on many chain-moving throws, poised -- borderline unflappable -- and a true leader. Its logical to assume he'll be far less mistake prone as a senior than he was in his last full-time role during his true sophomore season of 2011.
Cause for Pause: You are what you are…The past is prologue…We've seen this movie before. To be blunt, the Rees-led offense against defenses of any quality has rarely resulted in more than a pair of touchdowns over four quarters. Additionally, the fact that Hendrix wasn't even considered for the starting role over the summer speaks volumes.
Take it to the bank: Three quarterbacks will contribute to at least two competitive contests and as many as four-to-five this fall.