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Notre Dame’s Starting Points

In 2013, Notre Dame will return 149 career starts on offense and 144 on defense, plus junior kicker Kyle Brindza, who started the final 12 games of 2012 after Nick Tausch was injured in the opener against Navy.

Fifth-year seniors Zack Martin (left) and Chris Watt (right) have started every game next to each other each of the last two years.

Only three returning players on offense (all linemen) started all 13 games in 2012, while four did the same on the returning defense.

Nevertheless, there can be some ambiguity when it comes to defining what constitutes a “starter,” especially at skill positions such as receiver or running back. For example, last year freshman wideout Chris Brown actually had four starts, while sophomore DaVaris Daniels had only three.

Brown finished with two catches, while Daniels had 31. Who was much more of a “starter”?

Likewise, junior Troy Niklas is considered the “new” tight end at Notre Dame, but he actually had seven starts last year. That’s because John Mackey Award winner and senior Tyler Eifert was usually split out wide more, while Niklas played more of the classic in-line role of a tight end.

Particularly noteworthy is last year the five starting offensive linemen answered the bell all 13 weeks in 2012, and seven of the 11 starters on defense did the same. The offensive line could use similar durability this year.

Fifth-year senior left tackle Zack Martin has started all 13 games three years in a row. If he does it again in 2013, his 52 consecutive starts would break the school-record 50 set by 2006-09 offensive tackle Sam Young.

Especially amazing was how cornerbacks Bennett Jackson and KeiVarae Russell started all 13 times on a unit that was short on bodies. Russell joined 1973 strong safety Luther Bradley as the only two freshmen defensive backs in Notre Dame history to start every game as a freshman.

Here are all the career starts, from top to bottom, among players on the 2013 roster, with the number of 2012 starts in parentheses:

Offense
Player Career Starts (2012 Starts)

LT Zack Martin 39 (13)
WR TJ Jones 30 (11)
LG Chris Watt 26 (13)
QB Tommy Rees 18 (2)
RT Christian Lombard 13 (13)
TE Troy Niklas 8 (7)
WR Daniel Smith 4 (4)
WR Chris Brown 4 (4)
WR DaVaris Daniels 3 (3)
RB George Atkinson III 3 (3)
TE Ben Koyack 1 (1)

Defense
Player Career Starts (2012 Starts)

DT Louis Nix III 22 (11)
ILB Dan Fox 22 (9)
OLB Prince Shembo 21 (13)
DE Stephon Tuitt 16 (13)
ILB Carlo Calabrese 13 (5)
CB Bennett Jackson 13 (13)
CB KeiVarae Russell 13 (13)
OLB Danny Spond 11 (11)
S Matthias Farley 11 (11)
DT Kona Schwenke 2 (2)

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