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Leadership Beginning To Emerge For Notre Dame's 2019 Squad

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Leadership is vital to success for any football team, and every year a new set of leaders must emerge. For Notre Dame, the winter workouts begin the period where its leadership will start to emerge, and it’s a crucial period for those leaders to set to tone for how the team will work on a day-to-day basis.

The offseason workouts at Notre Dame involve the roster being broken into groups called “SWAT Teams,” and a points system is in place to declare a winning group at the end of the offseason.

There are eight teams, and each team has a captain, and from that group the leadership structure for 2019 is starting to emerge.

OFFENSE

QB Ian Book– The quarterback should always be a leader, whether he is a SWAT Team captain or not, but senior Ian Book earning a captain spot is a positive sign. Book worked his way up the depth chart last season, and now he must work to take his game to a greater level while also setting an example for the rest of his teammates.

WR Chris Finke– Now a fifth-year senior, Finke has gone from walk-on to SWAT Team Captain, and in his final season he’ll be tasked with providing leadership and playmaking ability to the offense. Part of being a leader is being one of the hardest workers, and Finke must set the standard for a wide receiver unit that is still quite young.

OL Liam Eichenberg– Going into his second season as a starter, Eichenberg holds one of the keys to Notre Dame becoming a championship caliber offense. Arguably the most talented player on offense, Eichenberg must go from being a first-year starter that flashes to a proven and consistent player that dominates. The accountability that comes from being a SWAT Team leader should help his development.

OL Robert Hainsey– The least surprising selection on this list was Hainsey, who has as much natural leadership ability as anyone on the roster. Not known as a talker, Hainsey is more of a show up and do your job well every day kind of guy. He was the only team captain on the vaunted IMG squad in 2016 and he’s going into his third season as a starter for the Irish.

DEFENSE

DE Julian Okwara– Okwara emerged as a playmaker for Notre Dame last season, leading the defense in quarterback pressures (61) and tying for the team lead in sacks (8). Now the rising senior is being tasked with taking on more of a leadership role. The hope for Notre Dame is that Okwara not only develops into a leader, but that he makes as big of a leap in production in 2019 as he did in 2018.

DE Khalid Kareem– Like Okwara, Kareem saw his playing time and production take significant leaps forward in 2018. Like Okwara, Notre Dame needs him to take his game to a whole new level in 2019, and staying healthy and producing on a more consistent level are keys to that. Kareem and Okwara must not only become standouts on the field, the must become standard setters in regards to how the line works on a daily basis.

S Jalen Elliott– It seems like just yesterday that Elliott was a talented but raw young defensive back that was making the transition from high school quarterback. Now he has become a top producer (led the defense with four interceptions), but he’s also emerged as a team leader. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that knew Elliott from his high school days, or knows how engaging his personality is. Of all the defensive captain possibilities, Elliott is certainly the most outgoing and vocal.

S Alohi Gilman– More of a “do what I do” type of leader, Gilman seems like the perfect player to be a SWAT Team leader. A hard worker that has to overcome a lack of God-given ability, Gilman being in a leadership position is ideal. He is the kind of player you want setting the standard for how to prepare and work on a day to day basis.

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