Notre Dame’s 2012 team features three brother combinations, one of the larger numbers ever at the school.
Twins Josh Atkinson (left) and George III (right) train with cornerback Bennett Jackson (middle) during track season.
The trio is comprised of fifth-year senior right guard/center Mike Golic Jr. and senior tight end Jake Golic, senior left tackle Zack Martin and sophomore right guard Nick Martin — who might be a co-starter with the elder Golic — and the sophomore Atkinson twins, George III at running back and Josh at cornerback
There have been dozens of brother who played football at Notre Dame from A (quarterback Frank Allocco and halfback Rich Allocco in the 1970s) through Z (quarterback Bill Zloch and defensive back Chuck Zloch in the 1960s).
In one case, Elmer Layden, one of the legendary Four Horsemen from 1922-24, was the head coach of the Irish in 1935 when brother Mike Layden was his starting right halfback.
In 1970 as a senior, Larry DiNardo was a consensus All-America pick at offensive guard — and four years later younger brother Gerry DiNardo repeated the feat at the same position.
The “First Family” of Notre Dame was the Millers in the early part of the 20th century. From 1909 through 1924, four different Miller brothers starred at Notre Dame, from former captain Harry in 1909 to Four Horseman Don in 1924. Harry’s son, Creighton, would lead the nation in rushing for Notre Dame’s 1943 national champions.
What were the greatest single-season brother combinations at Notre Dame? Here is our “Final Four.”
1. Ross & Jim Browner (1975-77) — During the national title campaign in 1977, senior defensive end Ross finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting while junior strong safety Jim was sixth in tackles with 73, plus he recovered a school single-season record six fumbles.
A year earlier, Ross won the Outland Trophy while Jim recorded 80 stops. A third brother, Willard, played fullback in 1976 before transferring. In a 1976 victory at South Carolina, Willard scored the game’s lone touchdown, Jim made an interception in the closing minutes deep in South Carolina territory to help secure the victory and Ross was named National Lineman of the Week for his efforts in the game.
2. Mike & Willie Townsend (1972) — In 1972, All-America defensive back Mike led the nation in interceptions with 10, while wide receiver Willie paced the Irish in receiving with 25 catches for 369 yards and four touchdowns.
The following year, Mike was a tri-captain for the national champs while Mike was the backup for Pete Demmerle at split end. The two also helped out as walk-ons on Digger Phelps’ first two basketball teams at Notre Dame in 1971-72 and 1972-73.
3. Tony & Reggie Brooks (1990) — The 1990 backfield was so overstocked with quality runners, junior Tony rushed for 451 yards while sophomore Reggie was shifted to cornerback and made a late interception to help preserve a 28-24 victory against Michigan.
Tony would finish his career 6th in school history in rushing yards, while a monster 1992 season placed Reggie fifth in the Heisman balloting.
4. Dave & Tim Huffman (1977-78) — Dave was the starting center from 1976-78 while offensive guard Tim played the most minutes of any freshman on the 1977 national champs. The following season they started next to each other in the last nine games, plus the Cotton Bowl. The Irish went 9-1 during that stretch, losing only to co-national champ USC on a controversial call in the final minute.
This year, the Martins have a chance to become the first pair of brothers to start along the offensive line since the Huffmans.