At the end of last week, Brian Kelly named the captains for the 2013 Fighting Irish and the trio he and the coaching staff selected shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Wide Receiver TJ Jones, cornerback Bennett Jackson, and offensive tackle Zack Martin – your 2013 Notre Dame football captains.
All three captains for 2013 have been exemplary athletes on and off the field throughout their careers and all three will be impact plays for the Fighting Irish this fall.
TJ Jones has been in the starting lineup for Notre Dame since his freshman year when he forced the Irish coaching staff to get him on the field with an excellent spring as an early enrollee in 2010. Since then Jones has increased his production every year he has been in South Bend and is poised for a big senior season as one of Tommy Rees’s primary targets.
Off the field, Jones has gone through some tough times throughout his career as well suffering the loss of his father in June of 2011. Throughout those tough times though, Jones has also been an example for his teammates.
Bennett Jackson came to Notre Dame as a wide receiver out of New Jersey. After spending his freshman season on offense and winning the special teams player of the year award, Brian Kelly and staff switched Jackson over to defense where he has settled in as a corner back that has the potential to be Notre Dame’s first All-American corner since Shane Walton (as does sophomore Keivarae Russell).
Jackson is a prime example of a player who came to Notre Dame and has done everything that has been asked of him from being a standout special teams player and then switching positions. Entering his final season of eligibility, Jackson has become the vocal leader of a defense that has the talent and potential to be every bit as good as last year’s unit – if not better. Jackson’s leadership will be vital to whether or not the defense is able to pick up where it left off last year since it lost two great leaders in Manti Te’o and Karpon Lewis-Moore.
Last, but certainly not least, Zack Martin returned for a 5th season this year and is now the 18th two time captain for Notre Dame after serving as one of the 2012 captains as well. Martin is one of the best left tackles in the country and has been tasked with protecting the blindside of three different starting quarterbacks over the last three years – Dayne Crist, Tommy Rees, and Everett Golson.
As a 5th year senior, Martin has received some All-American mention this summer and is going to play himself into a pretty high draft position if he just continues doing what he’s been doing the last three seasons.
Many people felt Tommy Rees might be a captain for 2013 since he has been a great example of how to handle yourself on the field with how he’s handled being in and out of the starting lineup throughout his career, but his off the field issues may have played a role in him not being named a captain for this year. Defensively Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt are by far the most talented players on the field, but both are more leaders by example as opposed to being vocal leaders.
For more on the naming of the 2013 captains, watch the video below from the Strong & True series.