SOUTH BEND – Tommy Rees' return to the starting quarterback spot came under a difficult circumstance.
Rees, who has started 18 games for Notre Dame, was named the starter for the season opener against Temple on Aug. 31 after last year's starter, Everett Golson, was suspended for the fall semester because of academic reasons.
Rees, who enters his senior season this year, said he received plenty of text messages and phone calls from his teammates supporting him as the starter.
"You never want something like that to happen to a kid," Rees said Sunday before a team meeting as the Irish got ready to go to Marion to open fall camp Monday.
"Everett's and mine relationship grew a lot last year. I have a lot of respect and how he has handled it. I'm excited for his future. Having teammates and the guys reaching out and being supportive, it was great. I expected that. I expected them to be supportive. That's the kind of team we have. To hear it, it was good."
The support of Rees was not limited to just communication between teammates, and the respect Rees has earned during his time at Notre Dame was obvious.
"He's the smartest football guy that I've ever been around," left tackle Zack Martin said. "On offense you look to the quarterback, you don't look to, you know, an offensive tackle or offensive guard. That is not the first person you look at. You look at the quarterback and see how he can take the guys around him and make them better. You know, me and (left guard) Chris (Watt) and (receiver) TJ (Jones) and some other guys, we know we are in a leadership role, but at the end of the day, we're going to be looking to the quarterback. He has done a very good job of taking that so far."
And while for the first time in the last year's Notre Dame goes into the season with a clear cut starter, receiver TJ Jones said not much will change during camp as senior Andrew Hendrix and freshman Malik Zaire will also have to be ready to step in at quarterback if something happens to Rees.
"Where as most people would like to think we would like to get the timing down with Tommy, knowing he is going to be the starter, you have to get your timing down with all of the quarterbacks," Jones said. "You never know what could happen in the game. Some day, someone could be feeling sick, the next person behind them is going to be starting.
"It is kind of the same approach. You work with every quarterback. You get your timing down the best you can. You just kind of roll with it."
For more on Rees, read Monday's Journal Gazette.