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Kelly expects leaders to emerge over summer

May 8, 2013, 4:58 PM EDT

Carlo Calabrese, KeiVarae Russell, Bennett Jackson

As the school year draws to a close, the Irish are in the unofficial portion of the calendar. Yet that’s the time — through the guidance of strength and conditioning coach Paul Longo, that leadership usually emerges.

Watching Brian Kelly’s teams evolve, you get the idea that when Kelly says his team develops at its own pace, he isn’t kidding. Kelly’s first team didn’t have a locked in set of leaders, instead they named game captains, sharing the leadership responsibilities. In Kelly’s second season, he named Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith to be the team’s leaders, only before Floyd was stripped of his captaincy after a spring DUI arrest got him suspended indefinitely.

Last year’s team benefited from a strong leadership group — veterans Manti Te’o and Kapron Lewis-Moore led the defense, while Zack Martin and Tyler Eifert led the offense. Four team captains were the most in the Kelly era, and add in the strong group of veterans that surrounded these four and you begin to understand one of the factors in how this team played better than expected.

Kelly talked a little bit about leadership during his Town Hall meeting with Tim Brown. The hour question and answer session sponsored by SiriusXM radio, Kelly didn’t touch on anything all that new, but he did discuss the ongoing development of the 2013 team.

While he may not be named a captain, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see quarterback Everett Golson emerge as one of the team’s leaders. He’s the unquestioned pilot of the offense, and while Zack Martin returns as a captain, Golson has certainly taken huge strides forward after a redshirt freshman season saw him struggle at times to survive.

“I’ve seen a maturity level. He benefits from smelling the air on Notre Dame’s campus,” Kelly told Brown. “Just growing up, seeing that maturation take place. We know he has talent. It’s never been an issue of that. But it’s how he deals with the game and all of the demands.”

On the defensive side of the ball, finding replacements as team captain will be interesting. The Irish lost the leader of every unit they had — with Jamoris Slaughter and Zeke Motta exiting the secondary, Manti Te’o gone from the linebackers, and Lewis-Moore now with the Baltimore Ravens.

It’s a process that Kelly is happy to let play out throughout the summer.

“Leadership is the area that we’ve been working on from a defensive standpoint,” Kelly said. “I think it’s letting that leadership develop and guys stepping up.”

Not that the defense is without leaders. One name that’ll likely get some attention is cornerback Bennett Jackson. The senior has played the last two seasons with his shoulder in a harness, gutting out an impressive first year starting and looking primed for a breakout year in 2013. You should also add Louis Nix to that list. Sure, the senior is a guy that’s a total wild card, but his teammates love him and he’s one of the dominant players in college football. While the staff has marveled at Te’o replacement Jarrett Grace, a guy like Dan Fox has played a lot of games and has the ear of his teammates.

As we approach the long abyss before we start focusing on next year, there’s developmental work being done. It may not be things we see, but it’s a huge factor in determining the fate of the 2013 squad.

  1. bernhtp - May 8, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    Carlo should become a captain. After all, he is clearly a leader of “people.”

    BTW, I heard from someone that was at the infamous party and the Tommy/Carlo arrest last year that Carlo never threatened the cop with “My people are going to get you.” Not that it makes a difference, but I tend to believe the version I personally heard over the one relayed by the cops in their report.

    • dickasman - May 8, 2013 at 6:50 PM

      I don’t even care about drinking ecstasy or snorting blow. He should probably make some more plays, that is all I ask.

    • papadec - May 8, 2013 at 6:54 PM

      I personally prefer the “my people” or “I have people” versions. They convey more attitude – especially from a defensive player. Now, if he’s saying that in regards to his players on defense, instead of family back home, we’re talking serious game time attitude. Oh yeah – Go Carlo!!!!!!

    • nudeman - May 8, 2013 at 7:51 PM

      Hard to believe a cop would pull that one out of his ass.
      Not unheard of, but I tend to believe he said it.
      Besides … great line

      • bernhtp - May 8, 2013 at 7:59 PM

        My friend’s son, who was there, watched Carlo try to talk the cop out of arresting Tommy. The cop got pissed at Carlo for not staying back and shutting up, but the guy swears Carlo said nothing remotely threatening.

        Regardless of the real story, I’m on Carlo’s side here. I’ve seen South Bend cops repeatedly target ND students and this has been going on for many decades.

      • chicagoirish23 - May 9, 2013 at 8:22 AM

        I heard it from a guy who heard it from a guy who’s cousin’s with the guys g/f. Stop talking bern, you just sound stupid. Your one third person witness is also contradicted by many other witnesses – oh yeah and by Carlo’s own admission.

      • bernhtp - May 9, 2013 at 1:04 PM

        Chicago: Just checking your reading comprehension. You did read that I directly spoke to an eye witness – right? – not “a guy who heard it from a guy who’s cousin’s with the guys g/f.”

        I never did read an admission by Carlo that he threatened the cop. Can you point me to the alleged quote? Ditto for other witnesses. I’ve seen numerous repetitions of the police story, but little more, at least regarding Carlo. I’ve seen conflicting witness accounts of Tommy’s actions (kneed the cop in an attempt to escape vs. reflexively scrunched as he was restrained and cuffed), but far less on Carlo. Help me out to not “sound stupid.”

        But also note, I didn’t render an opinion on what happened; I just relayed a first-person account as a BTW. Hence my “Regardless of the real story …” referring to the ambiguity that preceded my comment on the perennially bad relationship between the local PDs and ND students.

  2. shaunodame - May 8, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    I would love to see Louis Nix step into a Captain role this season.

    I know he’s typically a very fun and lighthearted guy, but if ever there were a time to “get serious” for him, I’d say that time is now. Also would like to see someone other than Zack Martin step up to gain an Offensive Captaincy, maybe TJ Jones? I don’t know who else I could see, maturity wise, filling that role. (Other than Golson obviously)

    • bernhtp - May 8, 2013 at 7:46 PM

      Louis is funny but often a bit moody. They usually look for up personalities to encourage and hold teammates accountable for the captain role, but Louis can certainly do it if he decides to make it his job. I suspect BK will have a conversation with him to ask him just that.

      • nudeman - May 9, 2013 at 7:44 PM

        A question: I know you’re an alum but you seem connected to the program beyond that. What is the connection?
        Just curious

        • bernhtp - May 9, 2013 at 10:19 PM

          No connection to the program, but am an involved alum with lots of friends deeply connected, students/parents, etc.

          As I’ve said before, most of what I say is just normal banter, analysis and opinion – same as everyone else – though it does come from a richer context, both past and present. The Carlo witness stuff is what it is and take it for what it’s worth. The (occasional) juicy stuff is invariably private and doesn’t make it here. Nothing private or particularly insightful about the Nix remark.

      • nudeman - May 10, 2013 at 12:04 AM

        Nix is on record as saying he wants no part of a captaincy
        I’d guess Kelly would respect that and loom elsewhere for leadership

  3. dmac4real - May 8, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    Prince Shembo.

  4. thefightinfloyds - May 8, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    4 captains…Zach Martin, TJ Jones, Louis Nix, Bennett Jackson.

    • thefightinfloyds - May 8, 2013 at 9:14 PM


  5. dudeacow - May 8, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    I think Tony Stockton was invited back because he is now one of the leaders, not on the field obviously, but off. Nix and Tuitt have praised him saying that after Kappy left he has really stepped up and is what keeps them all together.

  6. stedward - May 9, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    Speaking of strength and conditioning, does Tuitt still work with the defensive backs?

    • ibleedirish - May 9, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      Tuitt with the DB’s?! Since when?

      • kansasirish - May 9, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        Last year he worked out with the DB’s to increase his speed. There was a lot of talk about it after he ran the fumble back against Navy.

  7. mtflsmitty - May 9, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    Sorry to hijack the dialog, but would like to get FNCs response:


    You have posted regularly here that BK will have a 5-loss season in 2013. Don’t try to recast your multiple comments to this effect. I am sure Bern or Historian can easily offer dates when you posted about the 8-5 season BK would give us in 2013. So I have a bet for you.

    I will wager that CBK will have fewer than 5-losses on 2013.

    The Stakes:
    – If ND football has five or more losses in 2013, as you have predicted multiple times in recent months, I will never post here again under my current name or any other. Never.
    – If ND has fewer than five losses, YOU must never post here ever again under your current name or any other.


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