Notre Dame, IN (UHND.com) – Head coach Charlie Weis usually waits towards the end of spring ball to name his captains, but with the severe lack of numbers amongst the junior and senior classes this year, Weis named them early this year. On Saturday Weis named Travis Thomas, Tom Zbikowski, John Carlson, and Maurice Crum as captains for the 2007 season.
Zbikowski and Thomas, both fifth year seniors, are returing as captains from the 2006 squad while Carlson, a fellow fifth year senior, and Crum, a true senior, are captains for the first time.
In 2006 Zbikowski was the defensive captain for the Irish and as one of the more vocal players on the defensive side of the ball, his selection again in 2008 was a no brainer for Weis. Zibby will be entering his fourth season as a starter in the Notre Dame secondary and has the kind of attitude you want in a defensive captain.
One thing the Irish defense has been lacking over the last few years has been a swagger which is part of the reason why Corwin Brown was brought in as the new defensive coordinator. It will be Zbikowski’s job to help Brown install that swagger.
Helping Zibby on the defensive side of the ball will be senior Maurice Crum who will be entering his third year as a starting linebacker on the Notre Dame defense. Crum is one of the most experienced Irish defenders after starting every game during the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Crum spent last season play a bit out of place at middle linebacker, but he was still one of the most impressive Notre Dame defenders and the installation of the 3-4 defense by Brown could mean even bigger things are on the horizon for Crum.
On the offensive side of the ball, Travis Thomas will enter his second season as a captain after performing the same duty for the special teams a season ago. Thomas might be the most respected player on the Notre Dame roster amongst the players and is the epitome of the unselfish athlete. Despite his desires to be a running back, Thomas gracefully accepted a position switch to linebacker last year and performed admirably despite being undersized for the position.
Heading into the 2007 season, Thomas is poised to be “the guy” at running back for the Irish after patiently waiting for his chance for four years. Like Zbikowski, the selection of Thomas was a no-brainer.
Joining Thomas as a captain on the offensive side of the ball is fifth year senior tight end John Carlson. Carlson had a breakout 2006 season and will enter 2007 as the favorite for the Mackey Award and a likely first round pick in next April’s NFL Draft. Carlson very likely could have been a first day draft pick this year, but he returned for a fifth season and will be just one of four returning starters on offense for Notre Dame.
All four captains will also be asked to help out on special teams – an area which Weis plans to emphasis more this spring than any other spring since he has been at Notre Dame.
With the lack of numbers in the junior and senior classes due in large part to the subpar recruiting “efforts” of the previous coaching regime, this year’s captains will be looked upon to provide leadership for a group of very talented, yet very inexperienced group of freshmen and sophomores.