There were a lot of skeptics out there when Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly named Tommy Rees the new quarterbacks coach for the Fighting Irish. Now, as we fast forward to this season, an undefeated 12-0 record, and stellar play from quarterback Ian Book, it’s clear that there aren’t a lot of critics regarding what Rees brings to the table in South Bend.
In addition, the young assistant coach has also brought a ton of energy and effort to the recruiting trail, and his personality helped Notre Dame land a terrific talent at the quarterback position and some playmakers on offense.
Rees was the main key in getting Midlothian (Va.) Manchester quarterback Brendon Clark on board. Committed to Wake Forest at the time, the 6-2, 217-pounder was receptive to the pursuit from Rees, eventually de-committed from the Demon Deacons, and then flipped to the Fighting Irish over the summer. Clark’s relationship with Rees quickly became second to none and their bond clearly has everyone excited about the future.
“It started when I went up there on my official,” said Clark. “We really related well to each other. It’s funny. When we were on the official visit, we were playing corn hole and we were partners and nobody could touch us. It was clear we had a good bond and had a good time hanging out. I also really liked how he treated his quarterbacks, but also, I could see how well his quarterbacks related to him and there was a respect factor there. That really helped make my decision pretty easy. Then, throughout the year, even though I was committed he wanted to stay in contact and keep in touch with me. That meant a lot. We were just continuing to build that bond. And with his age, I think it helps relate to guys like me, but it’s not a big deal. I mean, he was recently a Notre Dame quarterback and he went through the highs and lows, plus he was ranked about where I am, so it’s just funny to think about all that and why we are so connected. It’s just a great relationship we have.”
In addition, despite a late push by both Virginia Tech and Georgia, Clark never once wavered and told both staffs directly that he would be signing with Notre Dame.
However, Rees didn’t just recruit quarterbacks this cycle. He is also credited for being the primary recruiter for Edwardsville (Ill.) high school wide receiver Kendall Abdur-Rahman. Although he actually played quarterback in high school, he’ll suit up at another position upon arrival in South Bend. Rees recruits Illinois heavily and one of his top priorities was Abdur-Rahman. Those two hit it off early and that relationship was key in landing the versatile offensive weapon.
In addition, Rees is credited as the secondary recruiter for both St. Louis (Mo.) St. John Vianney running back Kyren Williams and Avon (Conn.) Old Farms kicker Harrison Leonard. Rees recruits both areas, but especially for Williams, it was about more than just being a representative of the Notre Dame brand. When Williams first committed, he quickly credited Rees as a major factor behind his decision. He spoke about the bond the two had and how they really hit it off throughout the process. Running backs coach Autry Denson was the primary recruiter here, no doubt, but Rees was absolutely important in the pursuit of Williams, who was heavily recruited by Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford and many others.