As reported earlier, Notre Dame is heading to Marion for the first four days of training camp. Brian Kelly has stated that this has been in the works for a couple of years, but outside of 2011, I'm not sure if there was a better time to do this.
Brian Kelly is trying to manufacture some team building, after a 12-1 season that saw 3 of the 4 captains graduate from the University. Only 2012 captain Zack Martin returns for the 2013 season from the quartet that also included two All-Americans in Manti Te'o and Tyler Eifert, as well as the dynamic personality of "the old man" in Kapron Lewis-Moore.
That's a tall order.
As transparent as these group exercises can be, they actually can help bring people together, and just as equally important, they help bring leader front and center. Notre Dame is searching for new leaders to step and take those vacant Captain spots. They are searching, but what will Brian Kelly and his staff find?
First and foremost, Zack Martin (as mentioned) is there, and will most likely maintain his role as a captain and team leader. That's one guy, but a team needs more than just one player to help lead. I'm not sure what this years number will be (some years it's three some years it can be four) but, I am sure that more will rise to the occasion?
Who might these leaders and possible captains be? Well, Tommy Rees will almost certainly be a captain as he is the quarterback, and has a ton of respect from most everyone on the team. They love him, and really, as a teammate it would be hard not to love the guy after all of his unselfish behavior and willingness to be a team player.
As easy as that seemed, to pick a couple of guys on the offensive side of the ball, the task is not nearly as "easy" when you look over to the defensive side of the ball. There are great players on this defense, but I wonder if any of them are up for the task of being a captain.
If you look at the 3 senior linebackers; Spond, Fox, and Calabrese, all three of them are most likely to be involved in a rotation at their respective positions. I think a captain should be and is better represented by a fulltime, every down player. If that is the case, then I suppose we can look to Tuitt and Nix, right? Well, I never have got the sense that Tuitt was ready and willing to be in a major leadership role.
Nix is a more curious case. Louis is one of the more outspoken, loved, and genuine players on the team, and he has the respect of everyone who comes he come in contact with. However, I'm not 100% sold on him as a captain. Maybe it's because he can be a bit "goofy" from time to time, but then all I need to do is watch just how ferocious and passionately he plays, and I change my mind again.
You can throw even more names into the mix such as Bennett Jackson and TJ Jones if you wanted to, I suppose. The truth is that these four days of camaraderie, team building, and brotherhood are needed and wanted by the program. Leaders must rise and lead, while the team supports and follows. This is the first and one of the most important pieces to a puzzle that creates a championship run.
Soon enough we will know who these players are, and then we may get a better grasp of what this teams spiritual makeup will be in 2013. These will be Notre Dame's Loyal Sons, and lead this team to victory.