Skip to content

Kelly expects leaders to emerge over summer

May 8, 2013, 4:58 PM EST

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.

Latest Posts
  1. ACC scheduling puts Irish in the crosshairs

    Jan 29, 2015, 1:37 PM EST

    acc-football-logo

    The ACC announced their 2015 conference football schedule. And the six dates with Notre Dame seem to take center stage.

  2. Moore says Notre Dame treated Frozen Five fairly

    Jan 28, 2015, 2:55 PM EST

    Notre Dame v Stanford Notre Dame v Stanford

    Kendall Moore’s football career did not end as planned. The fifth-year senior never saw the playing field after being pulled from the team in August as part of an academic dishonesty probe that kept DaVaris Daniels, KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams out for the 2014 season — and school year — as well. (Eilar Hardy returned to the team in late October.)

  3. Irish land late official visit from safety Arrington Farrar

    Jan 28, 2015, 2:24 PM EST

    Arrington Farrar

    Brian Kelly took a trip to Atlanta and made his in-home visit to see safety Arrington Farrar. Things went so well that Farrar decided to take his final official visit before Signing Day to South Bend.

  4. Report: Notre Dame adds former UM strength coach Aaron Wellman

    Jan 27, 2015, 4:55 PM EST

    MVictors.com MVictors.com

    Notre Dame strength coach Paul Longo has a new lieutenant. And he’s crossed enemy lines to join the Irish staff.

  5. Irish host safety recruit Justin Reid

    Jan 26, 2015, 11:26 AM EST

    Justin Reid

    Notre Dame has a final need in their recruiting class. And over the weekend, they sold Louisiana safety Justin Reid that he could fill it.

  6. Mailbag: Sunday delivery

    Jan 25, 2015, 2:28 PM EST

    Jarrett Grace Jarrett Grace

    A special Sunday delivery of the Mailbag. Let’s get to some questions.

  7. As expected, Eilar Hardy to transfer for fifth year

    Jan 25, 2015, 11:16 AM EST

    Navy v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Safety Eilar Hardy will finish his college football career elsewhere. After four seasons in South Bend, Hardy will earn his Notre Dame degree and be free to play out his eligibility in another program.

  8. Mailbag: Finding the right 85 guys

    Jan 23, 2015, 1:04 PM EST

    Matthias Farley

    With less than two weeks to go before Signing Day, recruiting is the focus for the Irish coaching staff. But as we crack open the mailbag, we cover a bit more ground than the usual will-he or won’t-he that comes along with the first Wednesday in February.

  9. Prentice McKinney flips commitment to UNC

    Jan 22, 2015, 11:32 AM EST

    Rivals Rivals

    One of Notre Dame’s long-time verbal commitments is no longer planning on joining the Irish’s 2015 recruiting class. Texas safety Prentice McKinney took an official visit to North Carolina last weekend and flipped his commitment to Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels on Wednesday, dropping Notre Dame’s recruiting class down to 22 players and just two safeties.

  10. Mailbag: Now Open

    Jan 21, 2015, 9:51 PM EST

    New Mailbox

    Can we follow up last week’s excellence with another solid week of questions? Drop them below or @KeithArnold.

  11. Irish recruiting efforts coming into focus

    Jan 21, 2015, 1:43 PM EST

    ESB

    While the Irish coaching staff traverses the country taking in-home visits, Notre Dame’s staff is close to putting the finishing touches on a stellar recruiting class. The additional of Aliz’e Jones pushes the Irish into a consensus Top 10 class — quite an accomplishment considering this was supposed to be a smaller group.

  12. DaVaris Daniels to enter NFL Draft

    Jan 20, 2015, 12:29 AM EST

    Taylor Richards, DaVaris Daniels Taylor Richards, DaVaris Daniels

    Star-crossed Notre Dame wide receiver DaVaris Daniels’ career with the Irish is over. After two seasons and two significant suspensions, Daniels decided to forgo any additional eligibility he has at the college level and turn professional.

  13. Kelly hits the recruiting trail to bring back Stanley and Day

    Jan 19, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    Notre Dame v Syracuse Notre Dame v Syracuse

    Say this for Brian Kelly. He learns from his mistakes.

    And after losing Stephon Tuitt and Troy Niklas after just three seasons in South Bend, Notre Dame’s head coach made sure he had a final say before Ronnie Stanley and Sheldon Day made their stay-or-go decision.

  14. Keivarae Russell gives update on off-field progress

    Jan 19, 2015, 1:44 PM EST

    Notre Dame at USC AP

    KeiVarae Russell gives a promising update on his future in South Bend via (where else?) social media.

  15. Mailbag: So many questions, so little time

    Jan 16, 2015, 1:04 PM EST

    HO HO

    Lots to discuss in our Friday mailbag. Position changes, 85 scholarships, Reggie Ho and more.

    (Collective thumbs up to all of you.)

  16. Irish land elite TE recruit Alize Jones

    Jan 15, 2015, 2:51 PM EST

    MyLVSports.com MyLVSports.com

    After being committed to UCLA for months, Las Vegas tight end Alize Jones has flipped his pledge to Notre Dame. The bluechip recruit is widely acknowledged to be the best tight end in the country and plays high school football with current Irish commit Nicco Fertitta at Bishop Gorman.

  17. Dead period over, home stretch to recruiting begins

    Jan 15, 2015, 2:19 PM EST

    Arrington Farrar

    The first College Football Playoff is over. And with less than three weeks to go before National Signing Day, the dead period has ended and the home stretch in recruiting has begun.

  18. Mailbag: Now Open

    Jan 14, 2015, 10:45 AM EST

    New Mailbox

    There’s plenty to talk about. Have a question? Drop it below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  19. Ronnie Stanley to return for senior season

    Jan 13, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    Notre Dame v Syracuse Notre Dame v Syracuse

    Notre Dame junior Ronnie Stanley announced Tuesday that he will return for his senior season, giving the Irish one of the best left tackles in college football for another season. After being projected by some as a first round pick, Stanley made the decision to return for 2015.

  20. What does Ohio State’s championship mean for Notre Dame?

    Jan 13, 2015, 2:36 PM EST

    Kelly Urban Meyer

    It can happen. The right head coach can survive adversity and win a national championship. We saw that Monday night when Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes manhandled Oregon on their way to a 42-20 victory.