Tommy Rees is going back to college.
The former Notre Dame quarterback made it to the NFL as a coach with the Chargers. Now the Lake Forest native is back with the Irish as their quarterbacks coach, the school announced Tuesday.
Rees said he had two objectives after graduating from Notre Dame in 2013: He wanted to be a coach, and he wanted someday to return to his alma mater.
He spent last season as an offensive assistant with the Chargers and was a graduate assistant for Northwestern in 2015.
"I didn't know when or if this opportunity might present itself, but I'm so grateful and honored that it did," said Rees, who played for coach Brian Kelly from 2010 to '13. "I'm ready to get things rolling with this great staff and group of student-athletes."
He will begin by working with a new starting quarterback. Brandon Wimbush looks set to take over for DeShone Kizer, who entered the NFL draft.
Rees was the Irish's offensive MVP as a senior in 2013, when he threw for 3,257 yards and 27 touchdowns, one of three Notre Dame quarterbacks to reach 3,000 yards in a season. His five 300-yard passing games that year are tied for second in school history.
He ranks in the top five in 21 passing categories in school history and was 23-8 as a starter during a career in which he threw for 7,670 yards and 61 scores.
He will take over duties previously held by Mike Sanford, now head coach at Western Kentucky.
"As a former quarterback at Notre Dame, Tom also has a rare ability to truly relate with the quarterbacks on our roster," Kelly said in a statement. "He's literally sat in their seat, dealt with the ups and downs, faced the criticism, deflected the praise and all that comes with playing the position at Notre Dame. He can genuinely mentor them -- not only on the football field, but in the classroom and the community as well."
Rees is Kelly's seventh and final coaching hire during an offseason of change on the heels of a 4-8 season. The Irish also hired offensive coordinator Chip Long, defensive coordinator Mike Elko, special teams coordinator Brian Polian, receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander, linebackers coach Clark Lea and football performance director Matt Balis.
The only returning assistants are offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, running backs coach Autry Denson, defensive backs coach Todd Lyght and Mike Elston, who moved from linebackers to defensive line. Rees is technically a graduate assistant for now; the NCAA is expected in April to increase the limit of full-time on-field assistants from nine to 10.
This article is written by Paul Skrbina from Chicago Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network.