Linebackers Smith, Schmidt emerging as Irish leaders

The Notre Dame football team is now midway through 5-day start to pre-season camp at Culver Academies.

Brian Kelly says he will announce his starting quarterback when a clear starter emerges. He's also leaving things open as to when he will name team captains. Kelly definitely has two candidates at the linebacker position in Joe Schmidt and Jaylon Smith.

Smith is a fantastic talent as everyone saw during his freshman campaign a year ago. So could a sophomore be named a team captain for the Irish?

"He's a leader on our football team right now," Kelly said. "Whether he gets a "C" on the jersey, we'll see how that plays out. I wouldn't say that's outside the realm of possibility."

Smith certainly has natural presence when it comes to leading.

"It's not something I've forced or anything," Smith says about taking over a leadership role. "It's just what I desire. I feel like the team needs leaders. Us all on the same page can make us very successful."

Schmidt is a former walk-on but has adapted to new Defensive Coordinator Brian Van Gorder's system better than perhaps anyone. Many of the team says it's hard to imagine Schmidt being able to be taken off the field because of his leadership skills.

"I'm always talking," Schmidt explains. "That's one of the things I do as a player but it's really important for the guys who have been here before that they lead by example. That's what I'm trying to do every day."

Notre Dame will practice at Culver Academies again on Thursday and Friday. Their first practice back at Notre Dame is Saturday morning.


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