Brian Kelly announced the team’s captains today during his media day press conference, naming left tackle Zack Martin, cornerback Bennett Jackson and wide receiver TJ Jones the three official leaders of the team.
Martin returns as captain, only the 18th player in school history to do so. It’s a well earned honor for Martin, who Kelly raved about from a leadership perspective this summer, taking charge of the offensive line and building camaraderie this summer with the five incoming freshman.
Joining Martin on the offensive side of the ball is Jones. Another four year starter, Jones has shifted inside and out at wide receiver, playing his best football last season making 50 catches for 649 yards and four touchdowns. Jones will be adding punt return duties to his responsibilities as well, and has earned a leadership role on this team by leading the group both on and off the field.
Meanwhile, Jackson’s captaincy might be the one wildcard of the group. The returning starter at cornerback started his career on the offensive side of the ball before transitioning to cornerback and starting last season. Jackson played all of ’12 with a shoulder that needed surgery, gutting out an impressive season where he made 65 tackles, forced one fumble and intercepted four passes.
In Kelly’s four seasons at Notre Dame he’s had a different number of captains each year. In his debut season he named game captains, rotating leadership responsibilities each week. In ’11, he named Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith captains, with Floyd stripped of his captaincy after a DUI arrest the week before spring practice. The ’12 team had four captains, Manti Te’o, Tyler Eifert, Kapron Lewis-Moore and Martin.