Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 12, 2016

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

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Page 16 of 55 SEPT. 12, 2016 17 Kelly has never had a quarterback as captain in his seven seasons, keep- ing with a trend in Fighting Irish history. Among the last 147 captains dating back to the start of the Ara Par- seghian era in 1964, only 10 quarter- backs have served as captains. Kelly said he considered both junior DeShone Kizer and senior Malik Zaire — Notre Dame's two standout quar- terbacks — for captain roles this year. The coach said he whittled his options to a group of about six players before picking the quartet of seniors. "I'm certain that they would be very good captains," Kelly said of Kizer and Zaire. "That's kind of the luck of the draw at this point. … These four guys really rose to the top." McGlinchey, perhaps the team's best NFL prospect, said becoming a captain has been a goal of his since arriving at Notre Dame. He's now fol- lowing in the footsteps of his previous offensive linemen teammates such as Zack and Nick Martin, who are now in the NFL. McGlinchey said he called his par- ents Mike Sr. and Janet after Kelly's meeting. Though he was crying, Mc- Glinchey said neither of his parents did during the video call back home. "It's something that you dream of as a little kid, being a captain running out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Sta- dium," McGlinchey said. McGlinchey will team with junior left guard Quenton Nelson to form one of the nation's best offensive line duos in 2016. The former Philadelphia William Penn Charter star is perhaps Notre Dame's most vocal leader, help- ing offensive line coach Harry Hies- tand in practice while leading by ex- ample, evidenced by cuts and scrapes on his forehead. "He's a guy that is not afraid to speak up and speak his mind," Kelly said of the 6-7½, 310-pound Mc- Glinchey. "He's done a great job of re- ally growing into his leadership role." McGlinchey said he believes it's his work ethic that made him a captain. "I've done a really good job all four years of being a guy that's done things the right way, competed the right way, worked the right way," McGlinchey said. "I'm also a pretty vocal guy as well, and people know that I will hold them to the standard that our team has set." Hunter Jr. grew up in the shadow of a leader. His father, former major league outfielder Torii Hunter Sr., was a veteran leader for the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angles and De- troit Tigers during his career. Hunter Jr., who entered the season with just 35 career catches but was still the leading returning receiver for the Irish, said it's his ability to lead by example and spark teammates that he believes made him a candidate for captain. "Even last year and the year be- fore, I've always been a guy who just went out and practiced hard every day and tried to get better every day," Hunter Jr. said. "I would always try to be a vocal and step out of my com- fort zone. I'd try to get on Will Fuller, Chris Brown and stay on guys and just pep guys up." With an inexperienced group of re- ceivers, Kelly said big things are in store for the Prosper, Texas, native in 2016. "He hasn't played maybe as much, but he's played big roles for us," Kelly said. "He's a guy that will be counted on this year to do quite a bit, one of our only returning skill players. … He's a guy that walks the walk and talks the talk, and backs it up both on and off the field. He will be a great mentor to a lot of young receivers." Onwualu — a former wide receiver and currently Notre Dame's starting Sam linebacker — never imagined being a captain. The 6-1, 232-pounder, who has started 17 games at the Sam spot and produced 68 tackles his first three seasons, said his goal has always been to just help the team in whatever role that was needed. "It's something that you can't re- ally explain," Onwualu said. "If you asked me five years ago I wouldn't have even said I'd be playing football at a school as great as this one. For me to be a captain of this team is an honor you can't really explain." Onwualu is not relishing the spot- light that comes with being a Notre Dame team captain. If a teammate needs help, though, Onwualu said he'll be there, but he doesn't expect to go out of his way to change his style. "Here's a guy that has made him- self into a great player for us," Kelly said. "He is well respected by all of his peers, is one of our hardest workers and has now put himself in a position to lead our football team." Meanwhile, Rochell said he ad- mired the leadership Day brought to the defensive line last year. "Sheldon was one of those guys that you could always trust. He loved his teammates, and he got after guys when they weren't doing what they were supposed to," said Rochell, who also noted the leadership of Nick Martin in 2015. "Just seeing what they've done and the way that they held their goals and made other guys work toward those goals was impressive. It's something that I've taken after." Rochell has been one of the most durable Irish players the past two sea- sons, starting 25 of the 26 possible games and playing in all 26. The 6-3½, 290-pound Rochell entered the season with 112 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and 17 quarterback hurries in his career. Kelly also wants Rochell to lead the defensive linemen. "There are a lot of young players in that room, and he's been a great men- tor," Kelly said. "I love the way he handles himself on a day-to-day basis. "He really loves Notre Dame, under- stands Notre Dame and is a great am- bassador for our football program." ✦ Kelly noted he chose Onwulau, who began his career at receiver before moving to linebacker, because he is well respected by his peers and one of the hardest workers on the team. PHOTO BY ANDREW IVINS

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