Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 31, 2016

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

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Page 50 of 55 OCT. 31, 2016 51 IRISH IN THE PROS BY MATT JONES T hird-year Dallas Cowboys offen- sive lineman Zack Martin is one of the best players at his position in the NFL. And he's been that way since ar- riving in the NFL after a standout ca- reer at Notre Dame. Martin has been named a first-team All-Pro twice to accompany his two Pro Bowl trips, proving the Cowboys right after be- ing selected 16th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. In the Cowboys' 24-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers Oct. 2, Martin was graded as the best right guard in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, which evaluates every play of every game. "Zack Martin is one of the league's best guards, and the tape from week four provides a perfect example as to why he's earned that distinction," PFF wrote. "Dallas averaged 10.6 yards per carry on runs that went either side of Martin's block, and his ability to ex- ecute within the Cowboys' zone runs was a thing of beauty." Fox Sports labeled Martin as the best guard in the NFL for the first month of the season, writing, "Argu- ably the most dominant run blocker in the league, he excels in the Cow- boys' zone-blocking scheme." He's paved the way for rookie run- ning back Ezekiel Elliott, who had 546 yards and five touchdowns on the ground through five games. Because Martin is still playing un- der his rookie contract, Dallas is get- ting all-pro production for minimal cost. The 25-year-old Martin is mak- ing $1,235,254 this season. Martin was a four-year starter for the Irish at left tackle after redshirt- ing his freshman season. The former four-star recruit by Rivals elected to return for a fifth year in 2013 to play with his younger brother Nick, who is now with the Houston Texans. Zack Martin started a record 52 con- secutive games for the Irish and was a major reason for the team's 12-0 regu- lar-season run and national runner-up finish in 2012. The 6-4, 310-pounder was a three-time Notre Dame Offen- sive Lineman of the Year (2010, 2011 and 2012) and a second-team Walter Camp All-American in 2012. His second consecutive Pro Bowl nod made him just the sixth Cowboys player to reach the Pro Bowl in each of his first two years in the league. Over the summer, Martin married Morgan Eifert, the sister of former Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert. Zack and Tyler were roommates in college, and Eifert introduced the couple to each other during Martin's junior season. The Cowboys played the Bengals Oct. 9, and though Eifert missed the game due to a back injury, it was still a special meeting between the friends turned family. "I've got some people on both sides of the family coming in," Martin told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram prior to the Cowboys' 28-14 win over the Bengals. "Normally it's just my par- ents or some buddies. But this week, it's her whole family, my whole fam- ily and some family friends." ✦ Zack Martin Among The NFL's Best At Right Guard IRISH IN THE NHL The start of the 2016‑17 NHL season saw seven former Notre Dame players on opening day rosters. • Ian Cole (Played at Notre Dame from 2007-10), D, and Bryan Rust (2010-14), RW, Pittsburgh Penguins: Last season, the duo became the fifth and sixth former Notre Dame hockey players to win the Stanley Cup. • Stephen Johns (2010-14), D, Dallas Stars: Fighting to increase playing time after logging just 250 minutes last season. • Anders Lee (2010-13), C, New York Island- ers: Compiled 36 points last season. • Kyle Palmieri (2009-10), RW, New Jer- sey Devils: Scored a career‑high 30 goals and added 27 assists last season in 80 games. • Riley Sheahan (2009-12), C, Detroit Red Wings: Scored 14 goals and had 11 assists in 81 games last year. • Vinnie Hinostroza (2013-15), C: Chicago Blackhawks: Played seven games for the Blackhawks last season. Martin became just the sixth Dallas Cowboys player to reach the Pro Bowl in each of his first two years in the NFL. PHOTO BY JAMES D. SMITH COURTESY OF THE DALLAS COWBOYS

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