Skip to content

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Watch Notre Dame vs. Rice anywhere

    Aug 30, 2014, 12:43 AM EDT

    NBC_Sports_Logo

    Consider this a public service announcement for all of those unable to get in front of a TV this afternoon. If you’re stuck at work or on the road over Labor Day weekend, we’ve got you covered to watch the game.

  2. Irish A-to-Z: Malik Zaire

    Aug 29, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT

    Malik Zaire

    Putting up a better fight for the starting quarterback job than anyone expected, sophomore Malik Zaire reminded many Irish fans that he’s more than just an afterthought in the program. Irish A-to-Z concludes with a look at Notre Dame’s backup quarterback.

  3. Irish A-to-Z: Jhonny Williams

    Aug 29, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Jhonny Williams Signing Day

    Arriving late on the scene during the recruiting cycle, Notre Dame looks like they found a good one in freshman Jhonny Williams. Irish A-to-Z takes a look at the local defensive end, who shows early promise as a pass rusher.

  4. Mailbag: Opening Weekend

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:08 PM EDT

    Brian Kelly Brian Kelly

    Happy Labor Day weekend, everybody. Here’s hoping you’re spending the holiday with friends, family… and some long-awaited college football. Before we get to the game tomorrow, let’s clean out our first regular season mailbag.

  5. Pregame Six Pack: At long last, the season begins

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:34 AM EDT

    Brian Kelly Brian Kelly

    That took long enough, didn’t it? After far too long, football is back. With a preseason camp that the Irish survived mostly healthy, the biggest hits came off the field. As an academic investigation claimed its fifth player Thursday, let’s run through the Pregame Six Pack to get you ready for Saturday’s kickoff.

  6. Irish A-to-Z: Ishaq Williams

    Aug 28, 2014, 7:42 PM EDT

    USC v Notre Dame Getty Images

    The look of Notre Dame’s defensive line changed drastically when senior Ishaq Williams was suspended indefinitely for his role in the academic dishonesty case now pending at the university level. Irish A-to-Z takes a closer look at the one-time five-star recruit.

  7. Academic investigation removes Eilar Hardy from practice

    Aug 28, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT

    USA TODAY Sports USA TODAY Sports

    It appears that Notre Dame’s internal investigation surrounding academic dishonesty charges is nearing a close. But before it gets there, one additional player will be held out of practice and from competition this Saturday.

  8. Meet Kathryn Tappen: NDonNBC’s new sideline reporter

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:55 PM EDT

    kathryn-tappen

    Busy prepping for her debut as NBC’s sideline reporter for Notre Dame football, NBC Sports Group’s Kathryn Tappen was nice enough to catch up with me before the season begins.

  9. Irish A-to-Z: Nic Weishar

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:22 PM EDT

    Nic Weishar

    With Notre Dame on a roll at tight end, freshman Nic Weishar enters “Tight End U” trying to make a name for himself. Irish A-to-Z looks at the Chicagoland tight end.

  10. Irish A-to-Z: Nick Watkins

    Aug 28, 2014, 12:34 PM EDT

    Nick Watkins

    As most hard-core recruiting fans notice Brian VanGorder’s willingness to break the mold when it comes to recruiting, freshman cornerback Nick Watkins looks the part of a perfect prototype. Irish A-to-Z continues with a look at the newest blue-chipper in the secondary.

  11. Kelly: Resolution on academic suspensions coming soon

    Aug 28, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT

    DaVaris Daniels, Ricardo Allen AP

    Brian Kelly appeared on the Dan Patrick show this morning and shed some light on the academic investigation that’s holding out DaVaris Daniels, Kendall Moore, KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams.

  12. Irish A-to-Z: Justin Utupo

    Aug 27, 2014, 8:10 PM EDT

    Utupo AP

    Entering his fifth year in Notre Dame’s football program, grad student Justin Utupo is still looking to find a role in the Irish defense. Irish A-to-Z continues with the reserve defensive lineman.

  13. Irish A-to-Z: John Turner

    Aug 27, 2014, 3:02 PM EDT

    John Turner

    After being buried on the safety depth chart, junior John Turner became one of the talks of spring practice when he moved from forgotten man to a potential starter at outside linebacker. Irish A-to-Z looks at the unlikely outside linebacker.

  14. Opening Day Mailbag: Now Open

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:16 PM EDT

    Mailbag

    The season is finally here. Got questions before the opener? Drop them in the comments or over on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  15. And in that corner… The Rice Owls

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

    UTEP v Rice UTEP v Rice

    Notre Dame opens the 2014 season with a visit from Rice on Saturday afternoon. While on paper, a matchup with the Conference USA squad looks like it could be a good way to get the rust off, taking the Owls lightly would be a large mistake. The Houston Chronicle’s Joseph Duarte gets us ready for Rice.

  16. Kelly names Collinsworth, Day, Martin and McDaniel captains

    Aug 26, 2014, 8:38 PM EDT

    Temple v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Brian Kelly announced his captains for the 2014 season, naming safety Austin Collinsworth, defensive lineman Sheldon Day, center Nick Martin and running back Cam McDaniel his four leaders for the upcoming season.

  17. Irish A-to-Z: Andrew Trumbetti

    Aug 26, 2014, 5:32 PM EDT

    247Sports 247Sports

    After enrolling early this winter, Andrew Trumbetti has forced his way into the starting lineup. Irish A-to-Z looks at the freshman defensive end slated to start against Rice.

  18. Setting the bar: Expectations for the 2014 Irish

    Aug 26, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT

    Fighting Irish quarterback Golson brings the first team offense together during a practice session in Davie, Florida

    When Brian Kelly leads Notre Dame out of the tunnel to open the 2014 season on Saturday afternoon, he’ll be leading his youngest and most inexperienced team into battle on the new artificial surface of Notre Dame Stadium. He’ll also be short three key starters, still left in limbo as an academic investigation and Honor Code ruling continues.

  19. Irish A-to-Z: Drue Tranquill

    Aug 25, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Tranquill

    If there’s one coach counting on freshman Drue Tranquill to find the football field, it’s head coach Brian Kelly. Irish A-to-Z looks at the freshman safety who earned his scholarship thanks to Kelly’s evaluation of his high school film.

  20. Irish A-to-Z: Ronnie Stanley

    Aug 25, 2014, 10:46 AM EDT

    Michigan State v Notre Dame Getty Images

    After watching Zack Martin quietly spend four years dominating along the Irish offensive line, junior Ronnie Stanley steps in at left tackle. Irish A-to-Z looks at Notre Dame’s new starting left tackle.