Family Matters

Nick Martin isn't a senior, but Saturday's pre-game ceremony at Notre Dame Stadium will be emotional nonetheless.

For the better part of 20 years they've competed.

At home, in the yard, the park, the fields and the court. Challenging each other. Facing off vs. one another. Bettering each other athletically, both mentally and physically.

And for segments of Notre Dame junior center Nick Martin's first 20 years of life, he and his older brother Zack competed together as well. Saturday inside the House that Rockne Built, they'll do so for the last time in front of their fellow students.

"It's going to be special, an emotional thing," said Nick of Zack's pre-game walk out of the stadium's north tunnel into the waiting arms of their parents, Pam and Keith Martin. "When the game starts you put it behind you. But after it's over, stepping on that field with him as a player for the last time, it's is going to be weird.

"I've had him with me not just in college but in high school, in grade school, for 18 years at home before here. Now it's going to be different."

Zack will exit Notre Dame among the most decorated offensive linemen and winningest players at any position in program history. With the team's next win, Martin will have prevailed as a starter 36 times, moving him into sole possession of third-place in program lore. (For more on Zack Martin's career, click here)

Nick has joined him for seven of those wins to date. He doesn't consider the unique quality of starting with his older brother often, but it strikes him nonetheless, usually when others are celebrating with a fellow teammate.

"You hear people talking about it and you take it for granted," said the younger Martin of starting together. "But when you see each other after a long touchdown or touchdown drive, it's a special thing."

Game Day and Beyond

The elder Martin is on the cusp of an NFL career. First-time starter Nick has two more seasons of eligibility following the conclusion of the 2013 campaign. Both plan on the National Football League as their initial source of post-collegiate income. Both know it can't last forever.

"I don't know what I want to do," said Zack of the conclusion of his playing days. "Nick and my older brother (Josh) have always talked about doing something together. Putting something together. My degree is in Entrepreneurship, (Josh) has a finance degree and Nick will have a management degree."

(Asked if their chosen degrees indicate Zack will own a future company and Nick can manage the employees thereafter, Zack joked, "Of course.")

"Week-by-week it definitely is unique, it's different," said Nick of the Cougars shifting front, technically a 3-4 but usually anything but. "Watching them on film, I think they're good. I think they're really good. We're lucky our defense does that (shifts) at times too. That's why we have preparations, we can get used to it and be on our game when the time comes."

Van Noy and the Cougars held the Tommy Rees-led Irish to 17 points last October. Though not as effective as the 2012 unit, BYU nonetheless ranks 23rd nationally in scoring defense, allowing 21 points per game. Only high-flying Houston has scored more than three touchdowns in a game vs. the Cougars this fall.

In addition to creating 18 turnovers in their seven victories this season, BYU has succeeded in an aspect of defense coveted by the Irish program throughout the Brian Kelly era.

"They have been a team that minimizes the opportunity for big plays, and that's going to be very important for us offensively," Kelly said.

Big plays have buoyed the Irish offense this season, a unit with 20 plays in excess of 35 yards including 14 through the air. The latter is already three more than Irish quarterbacks combined for in all of 2012.

Nick knows when the offense executes as such, his older brother will first seek out the team's triggerman, a senior who happens to be one of their best friends.

"(Zack) always makes sure he looks at Tommy when he celebrates," said Nick when asked what he's learned about his brother this fall. "It's his go-to before he starts running to whoever scored. They've always had a special bond."

A bond of brothers, of teammates. But for Nick and Zack, it'll continue well beyond South Bend.

"Yeah, we have the idea we want to do something together," said Nick when asked of the pending family business. "My dad has an accounting background too, so he wants to get involved. We haven't put our heads together and gotten any ideas."

They have time to figure it out. Senior Day, a disruptive front seven, and a few more chances to compete alongside one another, awaits. Top Stories