When Brian Kelly met with the media on Tuesday afternoon for his weekly game week press conference, he said he wasn’t quite ready to name his 2014 captains, but that he would have news within 24 hours. Kelly didn’t need that long naming seniors Cam McDaniel and Nick Martin, 5th year senior Austin Collinsworth and junior Sheldon Day captains for the 2014 Fighting Irish.
None of the choices for captains should come as a surprise
- Cam McDaniel – The senior running back is not going to be the headline performer at his position – that will either be Tarean Folston or Greg Braynt – but that doesn’t mean McDaniel isn’t going to be one of the leaders of the offense. Folston and Bryant have all the talent in the world, but it was McDaniel that Kelly called the best all around running back on the team last week. If the sophomore backs can learn the little things from McDaniel, there production will be through the roof.
- Nick Martin – It just seems right that there is a Martin as a captain beings as this is the third year in a row a member of the Martin family is a Notre Dame captain. After being a captain the last two years, older brother Zack is now in line to start for the Dallas Cowboys. With a year of eligibility remaining, the younger Martin could very well make it four years in a row the Martin household helps captain the Irish.
- Sheldon Day – Kelly has not been shy in praising Day throughout fall camp. If the junior defensive lineman can stay healthy he can be a potential game changing defensive linemen. After learning from Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix the past two season, Day steps into the spotlight this year and has now done something neither of them ever did – captain the Fighting Irish.
- Austin Collinsworth – Many felt that Collinsworth wouldn’t hold onto a starting role in camp (looking in the mirror here) but it became very leader early in camp that not only would Collinsworh hold onto his job, but that Kelly looked at him as one of the leaders of the defense by stating multiple times that Collinsworth would be the quarterback of the defense this year.
Had the ongoing academic investigation never happened or been resolved with a positive outcome for those involved, it’s possible that two of the four could have been considered for captaincy – Ishaq Williams and Keivarae Russell. Russell probably much more so, but given the youth up front on the defensive line and throughout the front seven Williams could have been as well. With those two still in limbo along with Davaris Daniels and Kendall Moore, however, they won’t even be available to play this weekend baring some sort of sudden resolution that doesn’t involve any missed action.
Some players who could have been captains outside of the four Notre Dame players currently under investigation but didn’t make the cut include:
- Everett Golson – Kelly has said over and over again throughout fall camp that Golson is the leader of the offense. Then why isn’t his quarterback and the leader of the offense a captain? One can’t help but think last year’s “poor academic judgement” that cost Golson the 2013 season had one last residual effect. More often than not, your senior quarterback whom you claim to be the leader of the offense is going to be a captain.
- Ben Koyack – The senior tight end is the elder statesman of an extremely young tight end group for Notre Dame. Sophomores Durham Smythe and Mike Heuerman and freshmen Nic Weishar and Tyler Luatua have a combined zero snaps of collegiate experience among them forcing Koyack to be a defacto leader at his position.
- Jaylon Smith – While only a sophomore, Kelly wouldn’t rule of Smith being a captain at any time throughout camp and in many ways Smith is the leader of the defense. He’s the units best player and the one legit superstar the Irish have at this point anyway with Russell’s status still in doubt.
- Chris Brown – Kelly said throughout fall camp that the junior wide receiver was the leader of the wide receiver group throughout spring football, OTA’s, and into fall camp. With Daniels’s status up in the air, Brown is still the leader of a very young wide receiving corps.