After one full week of fall camp in 2019, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has named his captains for the season. Kelly tabbed seven players as captains on Saturday, and the only surprise is that there were no surprises. Every player that was believed to be a captain candidate was selected.
Here’s a quick list of the seven players Notre Dame named captains before a more detailed rundown.
- QB Ian Book, Sr
- WR Chris Finke, 5th
- OL Robert Hainsey, Jr
- DE Julian Okwara, Sr
- DE Khalid Kareem, Sr
- S Alohi Gilman, Sr
- S Jalen Elliott, Sr
Of the seven, only Hainsey isn’t a senior class wise though both Book and Gilman have eligibility remaining beyond 2019.
Ian Book first QB Captain Under Kelly
Jimmy Clausen was the last Notre Dame quarterback to be named a captain. He left Notre Dame following the 2009 season. Ten years. It’s been ten years since a quarterback has been named a captain for the Fighting Irish. That’s almost unimaginable if you think about it, but it speaks to the struggles Brian Kelly has had at the position.
Book is the first quarterback to enter a second season firmly entrenched as a starter without a hint of a quarterback competition. He is most definitely Notre Dame’s QB1, and there is a lot of optimism around what that consistency will mean for the Notre Dame offense.
Hopefully, this is the beginning of a trend where the Notre Dame quarterback is a routinely a captain.
Chris Finke Completes Walk-on to Captain Journey
Chris Finke walked on at Notre Dame as a 155 lbs wide receiver determined to prove he belongs. Consider that mission accomplished for the Ohio native. Finke is Notre Dame’s starting slot wide receiver, and he’s proven a lot of people wrong on his journey to the Notre Dame starting lineup.
Chase Claypool has the NFL measurables and freakish abilities, but there’s a good chance Finke leads Notre Dame in receptions this year. He has also taken on a leadership role among that group all off-season long.
Robert Hainsey Leading OL Room
The Notre Dame coaching staff has felt Robert Hainsey has been their best offensive lineman on the roster for a while. They named him a co-starter two years ago when his technique far out-paced his strength when he was a true freshman. Last year he was a full-time starter. This year he is a captain on a line that some feel could rival the 2017 unit that won the Joe Moore Award.
The most recent Blue & Gold Illustrated podcast mentioned Hainsey focused on improving his strength this off-season by increasing his reps of 225 lbs to 29. That kind of leadership by example is exactly what you want in an offensive lineman – especially with so many talent frosh linemen early enrolling this past year.
Julian Okwara & Khalid Kareem Leading by Example
Notre Dame’s two best players on the roster could be on the defensive line – at least that is how I voted them in my rankings for the top 25 players. To date, both have been more lead by example players, but that has reportedly slowly changed over the off-season with both expressing a desire to be a captain. Because that ability might not be as inherently natural as it is for some others, it makes sense that both will represent the defensive line as captains in 2019.
With such other vocal leaders on the defense, it will be interesting to see if both Kareem and Okwara become more vocal this year. The work that both put in this off-season, however, is more than enough to warrant captaincy via leading by example.
Alohi Gilman & Jalen Elliott Finish Safety Transformation
In 2017 the safety position wasn’t a nightmare for Notre Dame, but it wasn’t very good either. Jalen Elliott was a sophomore playing the position for just the second year, and Alohi Gilman toiled on the sidelines because the NCAA is a terrible organization that makes inconsistent and unfair rules in transfer eligibility cases. Fast forward two years and Notre Dame has perhaps the best safety tandem in the country.
Gilman has been a vocal leader for Notre Dame ever since he arrived on campus and Elliott grew into one this off-season. Both are absolute no-brainer selections. The only debate here would have been if one or the other represented the safeties. Kelly decided to go with both because both were so deserving.