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Notre Dame names three captains for 2018 season

| Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Tuesday marked the first day of spring practice for Notre Dame, and with the start of a new season came the announcement of new leaders for the Irish.

Irish head coach Brian Kelly named three team captains before practice Tuesday: center Sam Mustipher, linebacker Drue Tranquill and punter Tyler Newsome.

Emma Farnan | The Observer

Irish graduate student punter Tyler Newsome prepares to punt the ball away during Notre Dame’s 41-8 loss to Miami (FL) on Nov. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium.

“I met with each unit, the offense and defense, and what was said was, ‘This is not a popularity contest, and this is not about production,’” Kelly said. “‘This is about those guys who you don’t want to let down. Who don’t you want to let down?’”

All three captains will be graduate students when the 2018 season rolls around. Mustipher has been a two-year starter at the center position and follows in the footsteps of Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchey, Nick Martin and Zach Martin as offensive lineman who served as captains in recent years.

“[Mustipher is a] two-year starter — I think he’s got grit. He’s got all the things off the field, great student, great role model,” Kelly said of Mustipher. “He represents Notre Dame football in the manner you would want from student-athletes. He just has an immense amount of respect from his peers, coaches, players.”

“It meant the world to me — it’s obviously a blessing and a privilege to be voted by your peers to be a leader of this great football team,” Mustipher said.

Tranquill will serve as a captain for a second straight season, and the linebacker said that continuity will be key for the team.

“Being elected captain last year and this year is the biggest honor of my life thus far,” Tranquill said. “It humbles me and makes me feel really good. But with that obviously comes a lot of responsibility, and I recognize that. It’s a lot of work; I saw that last year.”

While Tranquill was a captain last year and Mustipher has become a mainstay along the offensive line, the decision to name Newsome, a punter, captain was an unusual one.

Kelly said the captains were chosen by what he called a “limited democracy,” meaning the team voted for the captains, but Kelly had the final say. He said Tranquill was a runaway favorite to hold his captaincy for his second year, and he added that the voting process was what gave Newsome the job.

“He had over 51 percent of the votes,” Kelly said. “Where [Mustipher] and [Tranquill] benefit from a unit that they’re with, [Newsome’s] got four guys that he’s with on a day-to-day basis on another field. To get that kind of vote as a punter sends a strong message about how he’s looked at by his peers.”

While it is unorthodox, Newsome said he’s always viewed himself as an integral part of the team, rather than a specialist on the periphery.

“I think the way I came in looking at it in the summer of 2014 was that I’m a football player first and a specialist second,” Newsome said. “I came into it with the mindset that I am one of the guys, even though my position is a specialty position. It’s nice to know my teammates also respect me in that same way.”

Kelly also said a fourth captain would be named after the conclusion of spring practices.

“I’m going to elect a fourth captain,” Kelly said. “That will occur after spring. The method behind that is we had, in total, 25 players receive a vote for captain. And we had about six or seven that were log-jammed in that fourth position. I announced the top three and put their names up … and then the vote totals for everyone else with no names. … I want them to compete for that fourth position.”

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

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