Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2014

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 49 of 152

BY LOU SOMOGYI O n the first 11-on-11 play late in Notre Dame's opening prac- tice Aug. 4 at Culver Acade- mies, senior center Nick Mar- tin's snap from the shotgun resembled a bowling ball rolling into the alley. Senior quarterback Everett Golson was unable to handle the ground ball and the play was blown dead. A swift chiding of Martin by the coaching staff let him know he was now truly back in his element after missing the previous nine months while recovering from a knee injury. "I've been out for a while," Martin said with a sheepish grin, after prac- tice, of the miscue. "It happens in foot- ball. You have to take a thousand reps, snap after practice, and get it right." If anyone has an appreciation of con- sistency and getting the job done right, it's Martin. In each of his four seasons at Notre Dame (2010-13), head coach Brian Kelly leaned heavily on a Martin to be a leader and the mainstay along the offensive line. He's banking on two more years of such consistent reli- ability from a different one. Former left tackle Zack Martin, the No. 16 overall pick in last spring's NFL Draft, was recognized as Notre Dame's top offensive lineman each of the past four years — a feat that might never again be duplicated by an Irish player. Nick now begins his second season as the starting center — and his first with the leadership torch passed down by Zack. The 6-4 1 ⁄2, 295-pound Martin also has a fifth year of eligibility in 2015. "The strength of the offensive line is in the pack," Kelly said, "but the one guy is the guy with the same last name. … Nick Martin is the leader of that group, it's pretty clear. We've got great leadership from [fifth-year senior guard] Christian [Lombard], but it's Nick Martin that's really driv- ing that group. A lot of that has been passed on from Zack. "That's why I consider him one of the great captains of my career … they are just following from a lot of what he passed on." With Zack serving as an immensely high bar of leadership and production, Nick is embracing his new role. "It's a pride thing," the younger Martin said. "When you get a limit KEEPER OF THE FLAME Center Nick Martin accepts leadership mantle from brother Zack

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