Brian Kelly says Tommy Rees to start

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Tommy Rees is Notre Dame's starting quarterback again.

After telling reporters last week there would be a three-way competition in August to replace suspended starter Everett Golson, coach Brian Kelly disclosed at a Grand Valley State University event in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Wednesday night that the job belongs to Rees, mlive.com reported.

"I've always moved forward," Kelly said. "I don't live in the past. I don't spend too much time in the future. I live in the present, and the present is that I've got Tommy Rees who is the starter for us, an established player, and he will be our starter. We think Andrew Hendrix and Malik Zaire can contribute, but Tommy will be our starter."

The news doesn't come as a surprise to Irish fans. Rees started 12 of 13 games for the Irish in 2011, when Notre Dame went 8-5. He also helped Notre Dame win four games last season when Golson either struggled or was injured when the Irish finished the regular season 12-0. He also led the Irish to four straight wins at the end of the 2010 season.

Rees is 403-of-634 passing for 4,413 yards in 33 games, with 34 touchdown passes and 24 interceptions and has an 18-4 record as a starter. He isn't a great fit for Kelly's offense, though, because he is a slow runner. He's rushed the ball only 47 times for a loss of 71 yards. He lost the job last year to Golson, who is suspended for the fall semester for what he said was "poor academic judgment."

Kelly did give Hendrix, who has been unable to beat Rees out for the job the past three seasons, and Zaire, who enrolled in school in January, some hope by saying he expects them to contribute as the Irish seek to build off last season, when their only loss was 42-14 to Alabama in the Discover BCS National Championship.

"We are under construction right now," Kelly said.

Kelly also spoke of Cullen Finnerty, who won three Division II national championships at Grand Valley State University and was found dead of unexplained causes last week in the woods of western Michigan. Finnerty played quarterback during Kelly's last season as Grand Valley coach.

"It is devastating to lose a young man who has so much life and energy," Kelly said. "Spending time with his family, we were able to talk about his life and the impact he made on Grand Valley State's campus. There were good times and bad times, but we only remember the good ones."