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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Football | Pulling Back the Layers

December 14, 2022

Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees has worked the Transfer Portal this month to find the final piece to his 2023 quarterback room. 

The staff remains high on the potential of sophomore Tyler Buchner and freshman Steve Angeli, while early enrollee Kenny Minchey arrives in a month. Yet, Notre Dame’s staff isn’t satisfied as they may have been in past years, including a year ago. 

It’s a sign of Marcus Freeman wanting to leave no stone unturned, but also learning from the last 12 months. Drew Pyne did an adequate job filling in during Buchner’s absence while also leaving much to be desired. 

Experience is obviously a significant plus when evaluating a potential transfer quarterback, but there are also more layers to the puzzle.

For every Joe Burrow, there are more players like Spencer Rattler or Tate Martell. And while Rees’ whereabouts have been somewhat unknown over the last month, it’s probably a safe assumption he’s been working on finding the right fit for Notre Dame. 

What’s Rees looking for? It starts with character as Rees wants someone who can enhance the strong culture inside The Gug. 

“I think you want it to be the right person,” said Rees. “The person is so important. Our culture is very strong. We want to start with character and make sure that stays intact. It’s somebody that can add value to the room and be a great addition to what we have from the top down.” 

Rees has gone to the Transfer Portal to improve his room in recent years as he made a quick decision to take Jack Coan as a graduate transfer in 2021. It wasn’t the sexiest decision, but a sound one and it certainly paid off as the season progressed. 

”Jack was the right person and that’s what we’re after,” Rees explained. ‘We’re looking for the right guy coming here and making an impact. Jack was such a positive impact on the room. We’re constantly looking for that he’s a great example of coming in and working hard, doing things the right way and having an opportunity to play for us.”

Regardless of who Rees dials in on, Notre Dame’s starting quarterback will have one of the best offensive lines in college football to work behind next fall. It starts on the outside as Joe Alt and Blake Fisher will be juniors and two of the best tackles in the country. 

Defensive coordinator Al Golden has seen great offensive tackles at the college and NFL level and he is quick to point out that Alt and Fisher are rare players. 

“Intelligence, length, lateral quickness, it’s hard to have lateral quickness,” stated Golden. “They’re very rare. To have lateral quickness, flexibility and all of those things in conjunction with reach and upper body strength. It’s really hard to have that whole thing. 

“That’s the thing about Joe and Fish. They’re very humble and go to work every day. They’re just super kids. I’m watching from afar, but it’s fun to watch them go every day.” 

It doesn’t stop there as the Irish interior should also be strong despite losing experienced players in Jarrett Patterson and Josh Lugg at guard. 

Andrew Kristofic will be a fifth-year senior and has eight starts to his name, including starting in Columbus week one while Patterson was out. The other guard spot will be an open competition, but Rees has been pleased with what he’s seen from the second team offensive line over the fall. 

“Kristofic has played a bunch for us in the past,” said Rees. “Over the last couple of weeks really seen a step forward with him. There's confidence with his ability.

“A guy like Tosh Baker, who's confident in his ability, he's moved around a little bit but talk about a kid that comes every day with a hungry work ethic and a great attitude and someone you just want to keep developing and pushing them to get them to reach their potential. 

“Those two have done a nice job for us. Their attitude here is pretty consistent and happy to see where they're at and where they can be moving ahead.” 

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