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No Fight For Irish Quarterback Job

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is sticking with Tommy Rees. The coach reaffirmed Wednesday that his senior quarterback would be at the top of the depth chart heading into the fall.

Former Irish coaches Ara Parseghian, left, and Lou Holtz, right, joined Brian Kelly for a golf outing Wednesday afternoon.

In late May, days after learning that incumbent starter Everett Golson would miss the 2013 season for an academic-related suspension, Kelly told members of the media that all three of his remaining scholarship quarterbacks would have a shot to win the vacant starting position. He reversed course a week later saying the job belonged to Rees, a veteran with 18 career starts. Kelly said he changed his mind after having time to fully evaluate his options.

“I hadn’t gotten a chance to think about Everett not being our starter,” Kelly said at his annual charity golf event Wednesday afternoon. “As I got a chance to think about it, Tommy does not have to fight to be the No. 1 quarterback.”

Rees is 14-4 during his unique career. He played a reliever role in nine games for the Irish last season on top of the two he started. He bailed the team out of tight spots in several games early in the year while Golson, a rookie, adjusted to the college game. Rees has thrown for a total of 4,413 yards with 34 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Kelly expects senior Andrew Hendrix to compete during fall camp and to find a way to help the offense in 2013. The coach said freshman Malik Zaire, who enrolled during the spring semester, will “continue to grow,” but did not say if he plans to use the mobile rookie this year or if he will try to preserve a year of eligibility.

Golson will spend his fall semester working to find a way back to Notre Dame. And as far as Kelly knows, that’s all he will be doing. Rumors of Golson playing at a junior college or training with quarterbacks specialist George Whitfield have cropped up in the weeks since his announced suspension. Kelly said those plans weren’t a part of the discussions he had with his quarterback.

“Based on my conversation with Everett, he’s going to do the things necessary to get back to Notre Dame,” Kelly said. “What happens outside of the conversation that I had, I’d rather not get into any specifics. I stay focused on his academics and getting back to Notre Dame. I try not go get into all that other stuff.”

Kelly traveled to New England earlier this week to observe Bill Belichick and the Patriots during their mini-camp. Belichick visited Notre Dame’s coaches’ clinic in April and reviewed the Irihs offense and defense on film. Kelly said he spent a good deal of his time in New England with the quarterbacks — All-Pro veteran Tom Brady and the newly-arrived Tim Tebow — to try to pick up as many new teaching points as he could.

“When I can get an opportunity to get out and spend time with different NFL coaches, in particular Bill Belichick, it’s just learning and continuing to grow as a coach,” Kelly said. “I got a chance to spend some time with the quarterbacks and see some of the things they are doing. It was just a really good opportunity.”

After two days with Belichick, Kelly spent Wednesday with former national championship winners Lou Holtz and Ara Parseghian. The three coaches co-host an annual golf tournament in Bridgman, Mich., to raise money for their foundations.

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