Irish name seven captains for 2017 season
Observer Staff Report | Saturday, December 10, 2016
Brian Kelly typically names his team’s captains in August. But the Irish head coach opted to get an eight-month head start on the ordeal Friday, announcing the seven 2017 captains at the Echoes end-of-season awards banquet.
Offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey, who will return for a fifth year as a graduate student, will return as a captain and be joined by six rising seniors: quarterback DeShone Kizer, linebacker Greer Martini, linebacker Nyles Morgan, offensive lineman Quenton Nelson, safety Drue Tranquill and receiver Andrew Webster.
McGlinchey, a two-year starter on the offensive line, will become Notre Dame’s 22nd two-time captain, joining Nick Martin and Zack Martin as recent offensive linemen to lead the Irish in two successive seasons.
Kizer, who has not yet decided whether he will return for his senior season or declare for the NFL Draft, was named the 2016 Monogram Club Most Valuable Player on Friday after accounting for 34 touchdowns during the recently ended season.
Martini made four starts for the Irish in 2016, shining brightest against the triple-option offenses of Navy and Army by recording 20 total tackles against the two service-academy offenses. He’s joined in the linebacker corps by Morgan, who led the team in tackles (94) as he started all 12 games at middle linebacker.
Nelson, who was named a second-team All-American by Sports Illustrated, did not allow a sack all season across his 12 starts at left guard. Irish247’s Nick Ironside reported Nelson is “leaning toward returning” for his senior season. Nelson was one of four players — along with Kizer, McGlinchey and Morgan — Notre Dame requested NFL Draft evaluations for.
Tranquill, who was recently named a first-team Academic All-American, will lead the Irish secondary after starting all 12 games in 2016, leading the Irish in solo tackles (52) and only trailing Morgan in total tackles (79).
Webster will make history in 2017, becoming Notre Dame’s first-ever active walk-on captain. He saw his first on-field action during the 2015 win over Massachusetts and has spent the last three years primarily playing on Notre Dame’s offensive scout team.
If all seven players, or even six, return to the Irish for the 2017 season, they will become the largest group of full-season captains the program has ever had. Five captains have represented the Irish on three occasions, most recently in 2015, while Kelly instituted a game-by-game captaincy in his first season, 2010.