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SOUTH BEND – For the first time since his arrest for resisting law enforcement, illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor, and battery stemming from an incident at an off-campus house party in the early hours of May 3, Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees faced the media.
He answered questions for several minutes at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex following the Fighting Irish’s Saturday practice.
Here is what the junior had to say:
* How are you staying sharp with limited practice repetitions?
Rees: The biggest thing is getting mental reps when you can. Helping the other (quarterbacks) helps keep me focused. Because I pay attention to what is going on and giving them my feedback. So I have to stay attuned. I stay after practice and get extra work in to just keep my arm loose and stay sharp. That’s been kind of my goal throughout training camp.
* Are you concerned that you are falling behind the other quarterbacks and won’t be prepared to play when needed?
Rees: No, I feel like I have a pretty good feel for the offense. I know what we are trying to do and I feel like I’ll be alright when my name’s called.
* How hard is it (not to get practice reps)?
Rees: It’s tough not being in there. The past few years I’ve been getting a lot of work. Having to sit out and not being out there competing with the guys, it’s tough, but I accept the punishment. I’m out there trying to help the other guys. I have to be as unselfish as possible and help this team win football games.
* (Sophomore quarterback) Everett Golson said that he didn’t know if he could do what you are doing. What is it in your personality that allows you to help the other guys?
Rees: First of all, Everett could do it because he’s a good guy. If he were in my position, I’m pretty sure he would do the same. We have a team full of guys like that, people that are selfless and that has been the message that we’ve received from Coach Kelly. For me, it was never really an issue. I’ve always wanted to do what I could to help this team. It really didn’t take me a whole lot to do that. I feel like that is understood from all of my teammates.
* Are you getting some on the job training for what you want to do after graduation, which is coach?
Rees: Coaching is something that I’ve thought about a lot, in terms of a career after playing. Right now, I am more focused on being a pro, but whatever I can do to help them, and be an extra set of eyes for them.
* How tough has the last three weeks been for you?
Rees: It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve had a great support system from my family, friends, and everyone in this building, which has made it much easier. The support that I’ve gotten from my teammates and coaches over the last couple of months has helped in the transition and smoothed the process. But it hasn’t been the easiest thing to go through.
* How do you put out of your mind that ‘If I make these guys better, I may never get my job back?’
Rees: One of the biggest things is having confidence in yourself. If you are insecure and thinking about things like that, it could be hard. But I try to carry myself with confidence. I know that I can help this team win games. Right now, my job is to help those guys and help this team and that is what I am here to do.
* It would have been easy to walk away from Notre Dame?
Rees: To be honest, that idea never really crossed my mind. I love being here. I love being part of this team and that never popped in my head.
* Coach Kelly said today that you probably will get a little bit more work during the (second game week).
Rees: Just getting back out there and competing is something that I look forward to. I’m eager to get back and when that time comes I’ll be prepared.
* What would you like to say to the Notre Dame fans?
Rees: Obviously it is a tough situation and something that I take accountability and responsibility for. I’ve thought a lot about the incident and it is something that I’ve moved past and gotten over. It was a lack of judgment and something that I don’t find indicative of my character and I am just trying to move forward, which I have. I’m just trying to focus on football.
* What regrets do you have and how have you learned from it?
Rees: The biggest thing is trying to turn a negative situation into a positive. I went out and spoke to different high schools and kids to try and teach them to make good decisions. That is the only thing that I could do is try and make it into a positive the best that I could.
* You have a front row seat for the battle between Everett and Andrew. What are their positives and negatives?
Rees: I think that they both do well out there on the field. They are both learning and they both don’t have a whole lot of experience. They are doing a really good job of taking it just one day at a time and learning the offense and staying within themselves. Both have talent and I’m excited to see how this plays out. But I think they are both doing a great job for the first week of camp.
* Coach Kelly said if it weren’t for your turnovers, there might not even be a quarterback controversy. What can you do during the summer to work on that or is it a matter of getting into games to improve upon that weakness?
Rees: To an extent, that is true. But I with a tremendous amount of film study, that is something that I did. I went back watched film of our games, more than once. I watched Drew Brees, and guys like that, guys that are so good at taking what the defense gives them and not trying to force things. I think that is just a mindset. If you understand what the defense is doing and what you are trying to do to them, then I think that you can avoid situations like that.