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Irish Insights

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Familiar story for Rees

Tommy Rees has been through this before at Notre Dame.

The Irish quarterback, who will be a junior next season, spent last spring in a four-player audition to win the starting job.

But there are differences to competing for the spot with Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson and Gunner Kiel this year.

"I played pretty much a full season this past year before just a couple of games at the end (of 2010)," said Rees, who is 12-4 as a starter. "Now I'm the older guy, the veteran in the quarterback room. I'm there trying to help out everyone.

"Last year, I had Dayne (Crist), who is kind of an older, big brother figure to me. Him and I were extremely close. Now I'm trying to mentor these young guys and try to get them to be the best quarterbacks they can."

Rees said he does feel more pressure to run every play to perfection this season because coach Brian Kelly has stripped the offense back to basics to get every QB on the same page.

Offensive coordinator Chuck Martin said Rees' mindset is that the other quarterbacks will have to beat him for the starting job after Rees started 12 games last season, throwing for 2,871 yards and 20 touchdowns.

"I think (Rees') mentality is, 'Was I a Heisman Trophy winner? Have I locked the vault shut and I'm the guy? Maybe not. But I know I'm ahead of these guys, and I'm going to stay ahead of these guys. And there's things I need to work on to improve,'." Martin said. "And he's not worried about the competition."

What Rees is worried about is showing he can cut down on the 14 interceptions and five lost fumbles he had last season.

"I want to show I can make the right decision, and not turn the ball over and extend plays when I need to," Rees said. "I think those are the two areas that we've talked about and I need to get better at. As long as I take care of those things in spring ball, I will let the rest fall where it may."

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