Tommy Rees' career at Notre Dame has been one that has really been up and down. He never really been fully appreciated by the fans for his contributions, but the players and coaches know his value.
Here is a guy who started the last four games his freshman year and he won them. The team started 4-5 that year, but when Rees took over the team really turned it around. The defense and running game were huge factors and Rees did rely heavily on Michael Floyd. But still, he was good enough to win.
Then as a sophomore, he was in the battle with Dayne Crist for the starting job. Rees did lose it initially, but Brian Kelly realized at halftime of the first game that he made the wrong choice. In spite, of leading the team to a 12-4 record as a starter, Irish fans would never embrace Rees. They were quick to point out his turnovers and lack of speed and arm strength.
Then when Rees made the terrible mistake in the off season that got him and Carlo Calabrese arrested, fans were ready to hang Rees. They had been calling for Everett Golson to start for a long time and they would finally see him play.
It was the right time to go with Golson who has a much better skill set, especially for Kelly's system than Rees does. However, Kelly knew the value of having Rees with Golson being so young. He knew that he could turn to Rees if Golson would falter in a game.
The first time we saw Rees in his new role was against Purdue where he was welcomed with nothing but boos. That didn't stop Rees from moving the team down the field for the winning field goal.
A couple weeks later Golson was really struggling against Michigan and Rees replaced him in the second quarter. Rees was able to lead the offense to two field goals and a touchdown which was enough for a 13-6 victory.
Rees was needed again late in the Stanford game when Golson went down with a concussion. He came off the bench and was 4 for 4 leading the team to a game tying field goal and ultimately hitting TJ Jones in the end zone.
Rees started the next game against BYU because of Golson's injury. The funny thing was that some fans were starting to appreciate Rees and calling for him to start. Unfortunately, for Rees he was mediocre that day completing only 7 of 16 for 117 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. That brought the Rees haters back out calling him a joke. They completely ignored the fact the Irish did win the game and his earlier contributions.
After that game, Golson really started to develop as a starter. Therefore, Rees was needed a lot less regularly. However, that doesn't mean he didn't still contibute in a big way. I thought the most impressive thing he did all year was to come in against Oklahoma on a third and long and hit Tyler Eifert for a first down. He may have only played one play, but it was a big play as it led to a field goal that gave the team a 10 point lead.
A similar situation happened a couple weeks later at Boston College when Golson was having equipment problems.
Although to be a back up, Rees showed how important the role is as he was called on in many different circumstances this season. His playing time may not have been much but his contribution was.
It will be interesting to see what Rees decides to do after the BCS title game with one year of eligibility left. Will he return to South Bend and continue to back up Golson? Or might he consider going to an FCS team where he won't have to sit out a year? Of course, we would love to have him back but I will root for him no matter where he is.