At this point, we are racing to the top of our top 25 player poll faster and more furious than Vin Diesel on a quarter mile track. Our 4th ranked player, posted earlier tonight, Bennett Jackson, is on of three Notre Dame captains along with our third ranked player – offensive tackle Zack Martin.
Zack Martin came to Notre Dame as a top 100 recruit five years ago and has not disappointed one bit throughout a career that will see him start 52 straight games barring injury as one of just 18 two-time captains in the history of Notre Dame football.
Martin “redshirted” as a freshman in 2008 as most non-early enrollee offensive linemen should at the college level and then burst onto the scene in 2010 after winning the starting left tackle position in fall camp during year one under Brian Kelly. Since then, the blind short of Notre Dame’s quarterback du jour has been in the most capable hands its been in in a long, long time.
Martin has started the past 39 straight games for the Irish and has developed into one of the elite offensive tackles in the country as he enters his final season of collegiate eligibility.
Why Zack Martin could be ranked higher
Martin has a bright NFL future ahead of him and is one of the best tackles in the country. It would surprise no one connected with Notre Dame football if Martin, the rock of the anchor of the offensive line the past three seasons, was a first team All-American after earning 2nd team honors from the Walter Camp Foundation last year.
CBS already has Martin as a projected 1st or 2nd round pick and so far in camp in the limited footage we’ve seen he has been going toe to toe with Stephon Tuitt and winning more than his fair share of battles against a fellow future first round draft pick. Notre Dame hasn’t had a first round pick at offensive line since Jeff Faine in 2013 meaning it’s been a full decade since an Irish offensive linemen heard his name called during the first 32 picks in the draft. There’s a very good chance that changes in April.
Why Zack Martin could be ranked lower
Honestly? We just don’t see any way Martin could be ranked any lower. That might be a copout, but if Martin’s healthy all season long, he is at worst the 3rd best player on the 2013 roster and if anyone outside of our top two ranked players comes out of no where and is better than Martin this season we are all in for a treat.
What would a successful season in 2013 be for Zack Martin?
As a three year returning starter, we all know what to expect of Martin this year – dominance. There probably won’t be a better defensive lineman that Martin will face all year than the one he squares off against every day in practice. By the time Saturdays roll around, Martin will be ready to tee off on whoever is unlucky enough to line up across from him.
As a captain, however, Martin’s biggest job in 2013 will be helping an offense replacing it’s starting quarterback, tight end, and top two running backs. The Notre Dame offense was inconsistent at times in 2012 and will need to be much improved in 2013 if the Irish are to reach the BCS again this year. With a quarterback who will never be accused of being fleet of foot and a stable of largely unproven running backs, the offensive line is going to need to dominate this year. The line is certainly capable of doing just that with Martin leading the way.
If the Notre Dame offense is able to run the ball as effectively as they did last year and give Tommy Rees enough time to get rid of the ball, Martin’s final year with the Irish will be a success. Enjoy watching #70 out there this fall because it’s been a long time since Notre Dame has had an offensive lineman as dominate as Martin’s been and it could be a while until we see another one like him.