The #1 storyline surrounding Notre Dame football this preseason is who will be the #1 quarterback, as senior Dayne Crist battles sophomore Tommy Rees for the coveted QB1 gig.
Crist opened 2010 as the starter, but went down in midseason with injury. Rees took over and finished the season 4-0, leading to the QB controversy we have today. Crist is bigger and taller, with a better down field ball. And he’s slightly more mobile. But Rees had a better passer rating, and he’s more accurate and superior in the short-range passing game.
Rees grew up in Lake Forest, a Chicago suburb; but he did not grow up root for ND, Chicago's most popular college football team.
"The funny thing was I wasn't a big Notre Dame fan growing up, it wasn't until I started getting recruited here that I appreciated the tradition, everything Notre Dame had," Rees said at ND media day.
"I liked a bunch of teams, but Northwestern was really close to my house, so I would root for them," he continued.
Surrounded by a ton of ND fans in the north shore, Rees dared to be different in pulling for the Cats.
"That's kind of the reason I shied away from them (ND), because there was so many people rooting for them, but now I happen to be part of the tradition and I love it here," Rees said.
Rees was recruited by Pat Fitzgerald to play for the Wildcats, with North Carolina in the mix as well. But his final decision came down to the Fighting Irish, Tennessee and Stanford. That was obviously a big decision for him to make, and ND Head Coach Brian Kelly faces a similarly big decision this training camp, in naming his starting signal caller.
Rees articulated what he thinks the quarterback competition will come down to.
"I think it's going to come down to some consistency, and valuing the football. Like I said, we're going out there and doing everything we can, so it's up to Coach to make the decision, and whichever way he goes, I think both of us will support the other and do what's best for the team,"
He also talked about what his reaction would be if he were named the back-up and not the starter.
"obviously, I would be lying if I said I wouldn't be disappointed. Being the starting quarterback at Notre Dame is something that a lot of people want, and I'm one of those people. But, you've got to have that 'team-first' attitude, and you got to be there for Dayne or whoever that starter may be. Just support your teammates, come to practice everyday, and like last year, you never know when your moment may step up, so you just have to stay prepared and keep your head high."
Both Rees and Crist, as well as the entire offense, are benefiting from another year in the system. This training camp brings with it a new sense of comfort.
"I think it's just the whole understanding, taking the offense to the next level, and keep progressing within it, and that's built in with extra timing and extra reps we got in with all the guys. The comfort level keeps growing for all of us," Rees said.
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