FORT WAYNE – Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly went with potential over pedigree in naming the backup to starting quarterback Dayne Crist.
Freshman Tommy Rees, who enrolled at Notre Dame in January and participated in spring practice, edged junior Nate Montana, the son of former Irish and NFL great Joe Montana, for the No. 2 quarterback spot on the depth chart released Monday.
Rees jump over Montana is not a small issue as Kelly used seven quarterbacks in his last two seasons at Cincinnati, and Crist is returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Hes really savvy. Hes a smart kid, Kelly said of Rees two weeks ago.
Two former Bishop Dwenger standouts will also start the season in backup roles.
Tight end Tyler Eifert leapfrogged last seasons backup, Mike Ragone, a senior who dealt with a heat-related illness during camp, and senior Bobby Burger, the backup on Notre Dames first fall depth chart, for the No. 2 slot behind starter Kyle Rudolph.
Receiver John Goodman moved to a backup role behind Michael Floyd. Goodman, who will also return punts with running back Armando Allen, was originally backing up Duval Kamara in one of the outside receiver spots.
Kamara will also be a backup, as freshman TJ Jones beat out the senior for the outside spot opposite Floyd.
On the offensive line, junior Braxston Cave got the starting nod over senior Dan Wenger.
On defense, senior Kerry Neal – a defensive end last season – held onto the dropback outside linebacker spot over Brian Smith, and sophomore Carlo Calabrese will start at one of the inside linebacker spots alongside sophomore Manti Teo.
Two more freshmen earned backup spots at linebacker, with Danny Spond listed behind Teo and Prince Shembo backing up junior outside linebacker Darius Fleming.
Sophomore kicker Nick Tausch held onto the place kicking duties he held last season, beating out senior David Ruffer, who will handle kickoff duties.