After a short-lived pursuit to become an NFL quarterback, former Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees will follow in his father’s footsteps by pursuing a coaching career.
According to SI.com’s Brian Hamilton, Rees will join the Northwestern Wildcats’ coaching staff as a graduate assistant.
During his four seasons with the Fighting Irish, Rees threw for 7,351 yards, 61 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The quarterback left campus with 33 passing records.
Rees was never seen as a permanent solution behind center for Notre Dame, though. He was a smart and efficient player, but there was always a more talented recruit waiting in the wings. However, his aptitude for the game was never questioned. Rees’ ability to read defenses and understanding of the X’s and O’s should translate well for the aspiring coach.
Rees’ father, Bill, also started a career in coaching and scouting at Northwestern before spending 15 years at UCLA then moving to the NFL to work for the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns.
Bill Rees eventually returned to Northwestern in 2010 before leaving for the NFL a year later to resume his scouting career.
Walk-ons usually don’t generate much interest on their own team and definitely not with the national media. But Tom Hruby isn’t your typical walk-on. In fact, there is nothing typical about Hruby.
Hruby is a 32-year old active Navy SEAL, who is attending Northwestern full time and trying to impress Pat Fitzgerald to eventually become a member of the team.
Hruby already achieved one goal. He’s definitely caught the attention of the Wildcats’ head coach.
“I know I couldn’t do it,” Fitzgerald told the Chicago Sun-Times‘ Seth Gruen. “He’s a man’s man.
“He was relentless, absolutely relentless, like you would suspect from a SEAL.”
Hruby is attempting to earn a spot on the roster as a linebacker and special teams ace. These may not sound like lofty goals, but Hruby wants to continue to push himself on and off the field. His days typically start at 6 a.m. and finish by 8:30 p.m. With the little personal time he has, Hruby tries to spend as much time as he can with his wife and three children. Hruby’s routine is the definition of discipline and determination.
“I don’t feel like where I’m at today is some outstanding or amazing thing,” Hruby said. “It’s just more of a challenging route . . . the way I kind of think about finding and accepting and trying to take on these challenges that most people would probably say are impossible, one, or very unlikely or just plain dumb.”
As a SEAL, Hruby has served on missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Whether or not Hruby earns a spot on the Wildcats’ roster, he’s will serve as an inspiration for his service to the country and how he’s chosen to chase his dream. Hopefully, Hruby’s chase will result in playing on Saturdays and running down on the Wildcats’ kick-off team to tackle his next obstacle.
Northwestern running back Venric Mark only played in three games last season and missed the final six games. The Wildcats are going to be without their talented running back for just a little bit longer.
According to a release from the school, Mark has been suspended for the first two games of the upcoming season due to a violation of team policy.
“I made a mistake and am prepared to deal with the consequences of that,” Mark said in the statement. “There’s no one that holds me to a higher standard than the one I hold myself to, so nobody is more disappointed than I am. First and foremost, I feel like I let my teammates down, and that feels the worst. I’m grateful to have another season to compete with this team. My focus moving forward is on working as hard as I can in camp and supporting my teammates in practice and on gamedays so that we can achieve our goals this season.”
Mark is a valuable weapon in the Wildcats’ offense and special teams. In 2012, Mark ran for 1,366 yards, and he was named a first-team All-American as a punt returner by the Football Writers Association of America. He adds a completely different dynamic to the Wildcats offense due to his explosiveness and shiftiness.
The Wildcats have two key non-conference games to open the season that Mark will miss. Northwestern opens the season against the Cal Golden Bears on national television, and the Wildcats face the always-pesky Northern Illinois Huskies a week later. Mark’s absence will be felt during those two games.
Fortunately, the Wildcats have experienced depth at running back. When Mark was hurt last season, Treyvon Green stepped in and led the team in rushing with 736 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Green will be asked to carry the load again until Mark returns Sept. 20 against the Western Illinois Leathernecks. And then the Wildcats will have an impressive two-head monster at running back when they enter Big Ten play a week later.