Irish DT Jerry Tillery has evolved into one of ND football's leaders

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The Notre Dame football team has four designated captains: Drue Tranquil, Sam Mustipher, Alex Bars and Tyler Newsome. But not all of the leaders on the team wear a "C" on their uniform.

Defensive tackle Jerry Tillery has quietly become one of the teams leaders and it's a role he's grown into.

Several of his teammates admit that when Tillery first stepped foot on campus, he would show up to practice right before it started.

Now, he gets to practice two hours early to break down film to make himself the best player possible.

"Jerry Tillery works really hard in practice," defensive line coach Mike Elston said. "Jerry Tillery does a great job in our meeting room. Loves to learn. Comes in and gives extra time and what he's done a better job of this season in being a leader is he's actually tried to hold people accountable to that level that standard."

Tillery says that adjustment has made him not only into a better football player but a better person.

"[It's about] hard work and determination," Tillery said. "It's a hard game. You've got to work hard and play hard. I think that relationships are important with coaches, with the administration, with your teammates and focusing on that too."

We're just a week away until Tillery and the rest of the Fighting Irish take the field against Clemson in the Cotton Bowl.