Rees, who is from north suburban Lake Bluff, was arrested Wednesday night when police in South Bend were called to break up an off-campus house party after noise complaints.
"They determined that individuals were fleeing over the back wall or through the back wall of the fence," said Capt. Phil Trent, South Bend Police Department.
Police say officers gave chase, eventually confronting the Notre Dame quarterback on the street and attempting to arrest him.
"When they went hands on with him, he turned around and reportedly kneed one of our officers in the midsection, and then the officer and Mr. Rees both fell to the ground," Trent said. "The officer sustained an injury to the right arm."
Investigators say Rees continued to resist. Officers finally subdued him with pepper spray.
Also arrested was 21-year-old linebacker Carlo Calabrese, who allegedly yelled threats at police.
"He said, 'my people are going to get you,' which was assumed to be a threat to one specific sergeant that was standing in the middle of the street," Trent said.
Police say the 19-year-old Rees had a blood alcohol level of .11, Calabrese .12.
Word of the arrests spread quickly Thursday on the Notre Dame campus.
"People were sort of amazed that something like that got so out of Hand," said Michael Harvey, a Notre Dame sophomore. "People were just sort of shocked and surprised."
The arrests are just the latest incident to cast a shadow on the Notre Dame football program.
Last year, the school was fined more than $40,000 for safety violations after 20-year-old Declan Sullivan died in 2010 while videotaping football practice on a scissor lift in windy conditions.
The school also came under fire following the 2010 apparent suicide of 19-year-old Lizzy Seeburg of Northbrook days after she accused a Notre Dame football player of rape. Criminal charges were never filed.
In a statement about the morning arrests, head coach Brian Kelly said Thursday, "I am of course very concerned given the nature of the allegations, but I am still gathering information. I'll withhold judgment until I can collect all the facts and speak with both Carlo and Tommy."
"It doesn't surprise me that he would actually be caught at a party drinking and stuff," said Quentin Burnloy, Notre Dame football fan. "Then again, it's Notre Dame."