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Who is Tommy Rees? Meet Alabama’s new offensive coordinator

Notre Dame OC Tommy Rees on the field during 2021 season for the Irish.
Matt Cashore - USA Today Sports

Nick Saban experiemented with Bill O’Brien for two years, but Alabama has a new offensive coordinator.

He is not the top-of-the-line name people are accustomed to seeing the Crimson Tide get; however, he is what Alabama needs right now to reestablish dominance. He was not one of the names mentioned in the rumor mill, but Tommy Rees emerged Friday as the Tide’s new offensive play-caller. Rees had a Zoom meeting with Saban on Wednesday and became the top candidate Thursday, according to reports. The 30-year-old brings six years of experience running offenses and developing quarterbacks from Notre Dame. As a alum of the Fighting Irish, he played quarterback from 2010 to 2013 — including 30 starts at the position.

RELATED: Former Alabama QB weighs in on Tide hiring Tommy Rees as offensive coordinator

Rees was Everett Golson’s backup on the 2012 Irish team that made the BCS National Championship Game.

People have their doubts about him, but the young coach has four things that make him perfect for Alabama.

1. Rees develops quarterbacks

He played quarterback, so Rees understands how to get that position to perform well.

He got his hands on Brandon Wimbush in 2017. Wimbush was a four-star prospect in the 2015 class and one of the top signal-callers in the recruiting cycle. He was not the best passer in the world (49.5 percent completion rating), but Rees got the most out of the athletic specimen. Wimbush recorded 30 total touchdowns (14 rushing scores) to six interception, pacing the Fighting Irish to 34.2 points per game and a 10-3 record in 2017. Ian Book, a California native, was not heavily recruited out of high school.

He had five offers in the 2016 class, but Notre Dame was one of them.

RELATED: What Tommy Rees hiring means for Alabama football recruiting

Rees took Book from nothing and made him an NFL Draft pick. Rees’ guidance helped Book take Notre Dame’s offense to the College Football Playoff in the 2018 and 2020 seasons. Book finished his career with 72 passing touchdowns, including 34 (career-high) in 2019. He got selected in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints and is now with the Philadelphia Eagles. Book turned in a 3,000-yard (3,034) season for Notre Dame in 2019 before going to the CFP the next year.

Jack Coan arrived to the Irish in 2021 as a transfer from Wisconsin.

Rees elevated his game, helping him to 3,150 passing yards and 27 total touchdowns. Notre Dame finished 11-2 that year with Coan as his beat his former team, 41-13. He had a better season for the Fighting Irish than his first three years (2017-19) with the Badgers. Rees would tailor Alabama’s offense around what Jalen Milroe or Ty Simpson does best, and produce success with it.

2. Rees’ offense brings Tide back to 2015

Lane Kiffin had Alabama balanced in 2015, and it won a CFP National Championship.

Kiffin had Derrick Henry running over defenders to a Heisman Trophy, and the connection of Jacob Coker to Calvin Ridley destroying defensive secondaries. Nick Saban gets that offense back with Tommy Rees. He will run a lot of 12-personnel with running backs and tight ends. Rees brings a power run game and builds off it with play-action passes. He adds jet sweep motion, pop passes, screens, and sophisticated play designs to get players open. Notre Dame did not execute every play well, but the ones they ran correctly resulted in touchdowns or big plays. Rees’ offense would allow Alabama to pound people and take shots. 

3. Rees can make quick adjustments/alterations

He is young, but Rees’ youth works to Alabama’s advantage.

Bill O’Brien, 53, got set in his ways as a play-caller. The Crimson Tide’s offfense became predictable. Rees will adjust accordingly if he sees something is not working. He had several moments at Notre Dame where he made split-second alterations on plays, and the results were positive yards or touchdowns. Rees prides himself on getting into the right play and making sure it works.

4. Rees will bring energy, motivation, and accountability to players

Alabama has lacked energy and accountability in the last two years.

Rees’ youth will motivated players on offense. He will bark at guys, chew guys out, and demand excellence.

RELATED: Breaking: Alabama football hires Notre Dame’s Tommy Rees as its new offensive coordinator

Rees also will relate to players and get their views on which plays make them comfortable. He did great with less talent at Notre Dame, but it is going to be interesting to see how he will energize the four and five stars in Tuscaloosa, Ala. 

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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