Former Notre Dame QB Rees returns to Irish as assistant

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Former Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees is returning to his alma mater as an assistant coach.

The Fighting Irish announced Rees is joining Brian Kelly's staff as quarterbacks coach. He is part of a major overhaul to Kelly's staff that includes new offensive and defensive coordinators. The Irish went 4-8 last season.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford left to become Western Kentucky's head coach. Kelly hired Chip Long away from Memphis to be offensive coordinator.

The Irish will be breaking in a new starter next season after DeShone Kizer decided to make himself eligible for the NFL draft and Malik Zaire transferred. Brandon Wimbush, a junior with no career starts, is likely to start spring practice atop the depth chart.

''As a former quarterback at Notre Dame, Tom also has a rare ability to truly relate with the quarterbacks on our roster,'' Kelly said in a statement. ''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.''

Rees was a three-year starter who graduated in 2013 as one of the most prolific passers in school history. He threw for 7,670 yards and 61 touchdowns.

''When I finished my playing career and graduated from Notre Dame, I wanted to do two things,'' Rees said in a statement. ''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.''

The Illinois native spent last season as an assistant with the San Diego Chargers. He was a graduate assistant at Northwestern in 2015.

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