New Notre Dame quarterbacks coach Tom Rees started 31 games for the Irish under head coach Brian Kelly. Now he’ll be asked to tutor the program’s collection of neophyte signal-callers in 2017 and beyond.
Kelly made Rees’ hiring official today, the tenth and final piece among his overhauled staff of assistants for the upcoming campaign.
“I’m very excited to have Tom join our staff,” said Kelly through a University release. “He possesses an understanding of the game, and most importantly the quarterback position, that’s unique. He’s a true student of the game and great communicator that will offer immediate dividends toward guiding our quarterback room.
“As a former quarterback at Notre Dame, Tom also has a rare ability to truly relate with the quarterbacks on our roster. He’s literally sat in their seat, dealt with the ups and downs, faced the criticism, deflected the praise, and all that comes with playing the position at Notre Dame.
“He can genuinely mentor them – not only on the football field, but in the classroom and the community as well.”
A 2013 Notre Dame graduate, Rees spent the 2016 football season as an offensive assistant with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers. He began his coaching career in 2015 as a graduate assistant at Northwestern. The Wildcats finished the season with a 10-3 mark.
A native of Lake Bluff, Ill., Rees directed Notre Dame to a pair of bowl wins as a starting quarterback – the first such Irish signal-caller to turn the trick since Rick Mirer following the 1991-92 campaigns. He finished 23-8 in a starting role over four seasons in South Bend and ranks among the top five quarterbacks in a combined 21 different single-game, season, and career categories.
Among Notre Dame quarterbacks, only Brady Quinn (95) exceeds Rees’ touchdown passing total of 61.
“When I finished my playing career and graduated from Notre Dame, I wanted to do two things,” said Rees. “First, I wanted to coach, and second, at some point in my career I hoped to get an opportunity to return and do it at my alma mater. I didn’t know when or if this opportunity might present itself, but I’m so grateful and honored that it did.
“I’m ready to get things rolling with this great staff and group of student-athletes.”
Rees is the sixth new assistant hired since the conclusion of the 2016 football season joining defensive coordinator Mike Elko (formerly of Wake Forest), special teams coordinator Brian Polian (formerly the head coach at Nevada), offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Chip Long (Memphis), linebackers coach Clark Lea (Wake Forest), and wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander (Arizona State).
Remaining on staff since last season are offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, running backs coach Autry Denson, defensive backs coach Todd Lyght, and defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Mike Elston.
Elston coached Notre Dame’s linebackers last season before serving in the role of co-defensive coordinator alongside former defensive analyst Greg Hudson – both of whom replaced fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder in late September last year.