Rees pleased with Golson, even if it means less playing time

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Rees pleased with Golson, even if it means less playing time

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Three months ago, Tommy Rees had to be ready to enter games on a whim in case Everett Golson looked lost in Notre Dame's offense. He came in three times for the redshirt freshman, leading a game-winning scoring drive against Purdue and playing more than half of Notre Dame's 13-6 win over Michigan.
In early November, Rees once again replaced Golson for performance reasons late in the first half of Notre Dames tilt with Pittsburgh. But Golson came back in to that game, and thanks to his efforts plus a little luck, the Irish staved off an upset.
Golson hasn't looked back since Nov. 3. He's earned the trust of Brian Kelly and Chuck Martin to play through whatever struggles may arise.
But that doesn't mean Rees can take his helmet off and loiter around the sidelines, thanks to a rule that makes a player who had his helmet knocked off during a play sit out the following down.
"Thats come up on some third downs here, luckily been successful in a couple of them," Rees smirked. "Yeah, its another way that Everett manages for me to get thrown in there, but its been a fun run."
That run began in August, when Rees' one-game suspension for a May arrest knocked him out Notre Dame's fall camp quarterback battle before it even started. But while Rees didn't make an impact on the field, he was universally praised by the participants of the summer competition.
"He's been such a positive influence on all three of the younger guys," Andrew Hendrix said in August. "Having Tommy back there at all times is really an invaluable resource that we have."
For Golson, Rees was accessible for more than just quick questions on the field. The pair roomed together during camp, with the seasoned Rees serving as support for the relatively green Golson.
"Oh man, thered be a couple late night discussions," Rees explained. "Hed ask me what I thought he needed to improve on, you know, dont hold anything back.
"And I told him the truth sometimes -- I told him the truth all the time, sometimes it wasnt what he wanted to hear," Rees quickly corrected with a laugh. "But any way I could help, and Ive had a lot of fun working with him."
When Golson was named Notre Dame's starting quarterback in mid-August, it was tough to imagine him holding that role for a team that'll play for a title in early January. Even Golson himself couldn't have envisioned that.
"Id like to say I did, but really, I couldn't," Golson said. "Me being so young, you dont think about that, you kind of think about the smaller things -- whats going to happen on this play. You worry about the little things, you definitely dont want to mess up the little details."
Golson has reached the point where he feels he has the science of the position, to borrow a term used by Kelly plenty of times leading up to the season, down pretty well. The redshirt freshman is growing into a leader on the offense, too, a role that'll become more important with the departures of Braxston Cave, Tyler Eifert and Theo Riddick (and potentially Zack Martin) after the season ends.
Rees, though, has one more year of eligibility left at Notre Dame, and is firmly entrenched in a backup role. But he doesn't necessarily seem unhappy with it, which makes sense given teammates have projected him as a great coach someday.
Hes already showcased that talent, to some extent, by taking Golson under his wing.
"Hes an extremely talented player, and he had some growth but its been exciting to watch him grow on the field and off the field this year, Rees lauded. Hes a tremendous young man and young player, and its been a lot of fun working with him.

Illini season ends in NIT loss to Central Florida

Illini season ends in NIT loss to Central Florida

Well, at least the good news for the Illini is that the Brad Underwood Era can officially begin.

Illinois' 2016-17 campaign came to an end Wednesday night with a 68-58 loss to Central Florida in the NIT quarterfinals.

The Knights blitzed the Illini early, outscoring them 34-19 in the first half, and the lead stayed sizable until a late rally by the Illini got the gap down to as little as six in the closing minutes. But the Knights didn't let the Illini get any closer than that.

Illinois shot a miserable 30.6 percent on the night and had just one player score in double figures.

That player was Malcolm Hill, who had a monster game in the final outing of his college career. Hill scored 29 points, accounting for exactly half his team's total, and splashed home six 3-pointers.

Hill finished his career with 1,846 points, third on the program's all-time scoring list behind Deon Thomas and Kiwane Garris.

Tracy Abrams' career also ended Wednesday night. Abrams had been with the program for the last six seasons, finally playing his senior season this year after missing each of the last two campaigns with season-ending injuries.

The book closed on the John Groce Era. While the former head coach was fired prior to the Illini's three-game stay in this year's NIT, this was the official end of his five-year era in charge of the program.

Underwood, who was introduced as the program's new leader Monday, can now officially begin his tenure.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Welcoming David DeJesus to the CSN team

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Welcoming David DeJesus to the CSN team

On this episode of SportsTalk Live, David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Hub Arkush (670 The Score/Pro Football Weekly) and Mark Carman (WGN Radio/Fansided) join Chuck Garfien on the panel. The Bears will reportedly bring Mark Sanchez in to Halas Hall? Really? Sanchez? Why?

The Bulls blow another big lead. Is Jimmy Butler to blame?

Plus the guy discuss if the White Sox are close to dealing Jose Quintana, Scott Paddock updates NASCAR's Monster Energy Cup Series and we welcome David DeJesus to the CSN team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: