Brian Kelly’s next quarterbacks coach should be an expert in Brian Kelly.
According to Keith Arnold of NBC Sports, Tommy Rees is set to join Notre Dame’s next staff in some capacity, although it’s not clear if that role will be as quarterbacks coach – meaning one of the nine full-time assistant coaches – or as an analyst in a support role below fulltime coaching.
A source told Irish Illustrated that if Rees does join the staff in short order that it would not be as one of Notre Dame's nine full-time assistant coaches.
Rees spent last season as an offensive assistant with the San Diego Chargers and served as a graduate assistant at Northwestern before that. The Chargers fired head coach Mike McCoy yesterday, meaning Rees will likely be looking for new coaching work.
If he was a fulltime assistant coach, Rees would be the third former Irish player hired by Kelly in the past three off-seasons, following Autry Denson and Todd Lyght. When the program’s all-time leading rusher and the former All-American defensive back joined the staff two years ago, they had a combined one season of full-time FBS coaching experience. That was Denson’s single season at Miami of Ohio under Chuck Martin.
With at least four new assistants on staff, Kelly will face the challenge of not only coaching the roster, but coaching the coaches attempting to develop it. It’s still not clear if that staff turnover could grow with defensive line coach Keith Gilmore’s future unclear as well as the potential for a 10th full-time assistant coach coming on line next season.
It appears Kelly is banking on that legislation passing – it’s assumed it will in coaching circles – because if Rees comes aboard as a fulltime assistant it may leave the Irish without a receivers coach following Mike Denbrock’s departure. It's also unlikely that Rees would accept another graduate assistant position after already filling that role at Northwestern.
New offensive coordinator Chip Long could presumably coach receivers, but his background is with tight ends, an open position following Scott Booker’s dismissal. Denson, Lyght and Harry Hiestand will remain in their current roles. Mike Elston will remain on staff, but it’s not clear at which position. Brian Polian (special teams) and Mike Elko (defensive coordinator) were announced as new hires in the last two weeks.
That leaves receivers uncovered, although Kelly spent time coaching that position for stretches last season.
As for Rees, he would inherit an inexperienced depth chart of Brandon Wimbush and Ian Book, with current commitment Avery Davis set to sign next month.
Rees started games in four different seasons for Kelly at Notre Dame, including a 4-0 mark as a freshman with wins over Utah, Army, USC and Miami. He finished his career 23-8 as a starter, including a couple wins during the BCS National Championship Game season of 2012 when he backed up Everett Golson.