Notre Dame, IN (UHND) – Notre Dame named their captains for the upcoming season on Saturday – junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen, senior center Eric Olsen, 5th year senior safety Kyle McCarthy, and 5th year senior linebacker Scott Smith.
Captains were selected by a team vote which was held on Friday with Charlie Weis announcing the results during Saturday’s practice. Weis had mentioned that he planned on only selecting one captain for each the offense, defense, and special teams unless the voting was extremely close. With Olsen and Clausen both captaining the offense, the voting on that side of the ball must have been too close to call.
For Clausen, being named a captain should help ease the concerns of critics who have questioned his leadership capabilities. He enters 2009 as a third year starter under center for the Irish, but at times has been criticized by the media and fans for his leadership skills. As he enters his junior year though, he will serve as an offensive captain just as his predecessor Brady Quinn did his junior year in 2005. Quinn, who Clauen will forever be compared to, experienced a breakout season as a junior and Irish fans are hoping Clausen has a similar breakthrough in 2009.
Olsen, who has moved to center this season, is also entering his third season as a starter and much like Clausen, he’s had his ups and downs over the past three seasons. The one constant from Olsen has been his effort and intensity. From very early on in his recruiting process, Olsen was described as having the perfect attitude for an offensive lineman. That attitude has been evident since he stepped on campus and he will looked at to the lead the offensive line with that attitude this year.
On the defensive side of the ball, Kyle McCarthy will be the elder statesmen of the group as the only 5th year senior in the starting lineup. In fact, McCarthy is just one of two total seniors in the starting lineup along with Darrin Walls. Corwin Brown and Jon Tenuta will be looking to McCarthy to lead the young, but talented Notre Dame defense in 2009 as they look to take the Irish defense to the next level. McCarthy led the Irish in tackles a year ago and has proven to be one of the best tacklers on the team. While he hasn’t developed the kind of knock out hits that some flashier safeties are known for, McCarthy rarely misses a tackle when he has the opportunity to make one.
Scott Smith, a fifth year senior like McCarthy, will captain the special teams. Throughout his career Smith has made 305 special teams appearances. Smith is also in the mix for a starting linebacker spot with sophomores Darius Fleming and Steve Filer. Even if the youngsters beat Smith out at the SAM position, he will certainly be a mainstay on special teams for Notre Dame again this season.
Most fans might be surprised to see Brian Smith’s name not mentioned as a captain for 2009 because he is generally considered the emotional leader of the defense on the field. Considering Sam Young will be entering his fourth season as a starter for Notre Dame along the offensive line it is also somewhat of a surprise to see his line-mate Eric Olsen selected as a captain over him.
Past captains under Weis have included David Bruton, David Grimes, and Maurice Crum (2008); John Sullivan, Travis Thomas, Tom Zbikowski, John Carlson, and Maurice Crum (2007); Brady Quinn, Tom Zbikowski, and Travis Thomas (2006); Brady Quinn and Brandon Hoyte (2005).
Leadership Committee Announced
Notre Dame also announced the members of this year’s leadership council. Along with the four captains, James Aldridge (running backs), Mike Anello and Sergio Brown (defensive backs), Michael Floyd (wide receivers), Kerry Neal and John Ryan (defensive line), Kyle Rudolph (tight ends), Sam Young (offensive line), and Brian Smith (linebackers) will comprise this year’s leadership committee.
For Floyd and Rudolph its impressive to see their teammates select them to the leadership committee despite just being sophomores. Look for these two talented underclassmen to be selected captains in the future.