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Notre Dame

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Notre Dame
vs. Rice
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
TV: NBC
Radio: 1190 AM, 92.3 FM, 107.3 FM

Notre Dame captains: Tough and accountable

Cam McDaniel set a tone on the first day of training camp by saying he fully expects Notre Dame to win the national title this season.

It was the type of statement that Irish coach Brian Kelly might have heard loud and clear as he searched for captains to serve as voices to represent of the entire roster.

On Tuesday, McDaniel was one of four players appointed to that prestigious perch.

Running backs coach Tony Alford said McDaniel actively tries to be viewed as a leader.

“He is tough and accountable,” Alford said. “He wants to lead by example and be the guy who helps the younger guys succeed. He is a team guy and has very high expectations of himself. As a person, he lives his life that way as well and tries to do things the right way.”

The coaching staff saw similar character traits in the other captains: center Nick Martin, safety Austin Collinsworth and defensive lineman Sheldon Day.

Collinsworth’s calling card has become his willingness to play with reckless abandon.

“We’ll be Scotch taping him together because he plays so ferociously,” Kelly said. “Austin throws his body out there 100 miles an hour at everything. He doesn’t play half speed at anything.”

There were times in Day’s first two seasons at Notre Dame that he looked like anything but a captain in waiting.

“I’ve changed a lot,” the junior said. “I used to be this shy guy. I used to sit back and observe. Now I’m up front saying things, communicating and just trying to be the best teammate I can be.”

For Martin, his selection carries on a family legacy. He is the younger brother of NFL offensive lineman Zack Martin, who was a captain for Notre Dame in 2012 and 2013.

“Obviously when he was here he was one of the best leaders to come through Notre Dame,” Martin said. “Now that he’s gone, I’ve learned from him. It’s my time to step up.”

The Martins are only the second pair of brothers to serve as team captains for the Irish, joining Bob Golic (1978) and Mike Golic Sr. (1984).

There were some other intriguing historical aspects to Kelly’s selections.

Day and Martin are both from Indianapolis. Notre Dame last had a pair of captains from the same hometown in 1954 with Chicago natives Paul Matz and Dan Shannon.

It is also the second time in three years that a pair of Hoosier State natives have served together as captains. Fort Wayne’s Tyler Eifert was a captain alongside Zack Martin in 2012.

Notes: The Irish announced Saturday’s home opener against Rice as the 238th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. …

The Irish are 74-11-3 in season openers played at home. …

Collinsworth has an active streak of three games with an interception, making him the first Notre Dame player to pull off that feat since Irish graduate assistant Kyle McCarthy in 2009.

cgoff@jg.net

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