There is a long tradition of brothers who have played for the Notre Dame Irish.
Names like DiNardo, Brooks, McCarthy, and two generations of Golics. This year, there’s Josh and George Atkinson and the Martins, Zack and Nick.
Zack Martin accomplished so much in his career at Notre Dame. He was a captain on a team that played in a National Championship game last year as a senior. He could have left for the NFL, but there was something big missing. He needed his brother to make it happen.
Nick Martin is now in his junior year at Notre Dame. This year he become the Irish starting center, marking the first time the Martin brothers have started on the football field at the same time at any point in their lives.
Angelo Di Carlo sat down with the brothers this week for our Countdown to Kickoff Show.
Growing up, Zack was always the bigger brother, a protector of sorts.
Angelo: So you didn't pick on him at all?
Nick: He definitely picked on me.
Zack: Oh don't get me wrong, yeah I tortured him. But he didn't have anything to come back with.
Angelo: What's the best thing about having your brother on the team?
Zack: If I'm in a bad mood I can just take it out on him. Because, I don't feel bad about it.
Nick: I would say that's a negative for me... I would say definitely a feeling of comfort. The transition from being away from home was easy. Zack brought me in, his friends brought me in. Sometimes they think I'm a little brother to them, especially Tommy. But just that sense of comfort, knowing that I have someone to go to I feel comfortable with.
Angelo: What's the worst thing about having your brother on the team?
Zack: My positive is probably your negative…
Nick: Yeah I was going to say. My worst is probably him coming down on me. He's definitely my toughest critic.
Angelo: Was playing with Nick a major impact on your decision to stay?
Zack: Absolutely. When he came here that was one of the things we talked about. We said, you know we may have the chance to be on the field together. Me leaving early would've cut that short so that was definitely a huge reason and it's paid off and been worth it ever since.
Angelo: Being on the team together, what has this experience been like for you guys?
Zack: It's the first time we've ever been on the field together so it's really cool to be out there together. And him being the middle and kind of the center of attention and making the calls every play so it's pretty fun.
Nick: I watched him for two years. He would come to the sideline and I would tell him what he did good and what he did bad. Finally, running out of the tunnel and getting that start in the Temple game, it was a surreal feeling. The first touchdown.. I looked back and we high-fived, it was awesome.
Angelo: Has this been everything you would've asked for?
Zack: Yeah, absolutely. I haven't regretted it for a second. We always talk about these big schools. I can't imagine going to a big school. I love little Notre Dame and the people I've met here and the community here. It's a special place and you hear it so many times, you don't know about Notre Dame until you've actually been here. We'll be Irish fans for the rest of our lives.