Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2014 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 40 of 107

Full Circle Tommy Rees' career ends at Yankee Stadium, where he started his first game on the road Q By Dan Murphy uarterback Tommy Rees remembers the first time he walked into the home locker room inside Yankee Stadium, wide-eyed and baby-faced as a freshman in November 2010. Rees made the first of his 31 career starts with the Irish a week earlier. He threw three touchdowns passes to push Notre Dame toward a desperately needed win in its final home game of the year. In the Bronx, he manufactured a 27-3 victory over Army in a matchup and setting loaded with past history. He threw a long touchdown pass in the game and started to look more comfortable in his new role, but afterwards he was most eager to talk about borrowing a locker for the night from Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. "It was really cool to be in there," Rees said the day Notre Dame officially announced it was heading back to Yankee Stadium to play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl Dec. 28. "The locker room was unbelievable from what I remember. I still have pictures of it. Walking in there as an 18-year-old kid, it's a pretty cool experience." The deer-in-headlights look from his first trip as a freshman has faded during a record-setting, polarizing four years that have played out for Rees unlike anyone else that came before him. The feeling that he was sitting in someone else's chair, from the outside at least, never completely went away. Rees' final stop in Yankee Stadium provides a scrap of symmetry to a career that has never folded neatly into a traditional narrative. It's a small, neat bow tied on top of an otherwise hopelessly tangled ball of yarn. The first attempts to unravel what Rees has accomplished during his time in South Bend came before Notre Dame took the field this fall, before the senior had ever started in a season-opening game. "I don't think his story is written," head coach Brian Kelly said in August. "I think you write the story after he completes his journey here at Notre Dame. And you know what? It could be a really interesting story." The ending won't be the BCS bowl trip Kelly hoped for in the preseason, but to call Rees' time at Notre Dame disappointing ignores all the history he changed along the way. Rees outlasted a string of fellow quarterbacks who on paper were all better suited for the job.

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