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Friendly competition begins for freshman QBs

With a depth chart alarmingly thin at quarterback with the early departure of Jimmy Clausen and the uncertain health of Dayne Crist, Brian Kelly made the unorthodox decision to bring in three quarterbacks in his first recruiting class.

Tommy Rees enrolled in January, in large part to support a spring depth chart with only a rehabilitating Crist and walk-on Nate Montana. Andrew Hendrix and Luke Massa joined this summer and are acclimating themselves to college life as camp gets under way.

The fine folks at have a nice interview with the three quarterbacks, a 180-degree turn of events from the previous regime, who kept freshman off-limits to the media.

And while all three quarterbacks are competing for a spot on the depth chart, they’re also quickly become close friends.

“It’s great, we’re like brothers,” Hendrix said. “We’re really getting to know each other. If anybody needs help with anything, we’ve got each other’s backs.”

Rees has even coined a nickname for the group.

“Three amigos,” Rees said. “We’re all pretty good friends, we all hang out together, we get along. We obviously compete with one another, but we understand what happens on the field and what’s not on the field are two completely different things. They’re great guys, I’m glad they’re here and I’m glad to get to know them.”

While Hendrix was the highest touted recruit and the Irish survived a deadline poach attempt by Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators, many have been surprised by the positive reports on the play of Rees and Massa, who many thought was a throw-in scholarship offer because of his highly touted teammate, the late Matt James.

The signing of three freshman is a large reason why a quarterback hasn’t committed to the 2011 recruiting class yet, and while I’d be surprised if all three signal-callers complete their football career at Notre Dame, it probably helps to have an established starter like Dayne Crist ahead of them.

Instead of worrying about getting snaps from the minute they step onto campus, all three can learn the offense, get acclimated to college, and get their feet underneath them. That said, Kelly and offensive coordinator Charley Molnar have made it known that they expect one of the quarterbacks to push Montana for the primary back-up job, so don’t expect any quarterback to get too comfortable.