Regardless, when the head coach appoints his captains for the coming season, it's a good bet that for the third straight year, the son of Pam and Keith Martin of Indianapolis will be among them. For the first time then, that son would be Nick, current Irish senior, and younger brother of one of the best players in the program's storied history.
Two-time captain Zack (2012-13) first led his offensive line mates, then the team. Nick has followed suit.
"I think the strength of the offensive line is in the pack, it's the group," Kelly began. "Nick Martin is the leader of that group, all right, it's pretty clear. Now, we've got great leadership from (5th-year senior offensive guard) Christian (Lombard), but it's Nick Martin that's really driving that group. A lot of that has been passed on from Zack. That's why I consider (Zack) one of the great captains of my career, because he passed on so much of that and they are just following from a lot of what he passed on."
Zack is in Dallas, a first-round draft pick of the Cowboys. Nick is the team's starting center, 10 months removed from knee surgery. The fact that he's ready from the outset impressed Kelly, a leader that's made it clear consistency, toughness and dedication, not bluster, are the main attributes he seeks in a captain.
"If you take a guy like Nick Martin, who just kind of set the bar in terms of coming back from a really tough injury, and now he is full go. The way he's worked," Kelly offered. "(Senior linebacker) Ben Councell; the way both of those guys have set a high bar in coming back from knee injuries and now being fully capable to do everything in our program."
While Councell put himself in position to contribute as a part-time starter on the strong side, it's Martin that's the most likely go-to-guy over the next five months. For his offensive line mates, his coach, and his team.
"We are a tight-knit group," Martin told Irisheyes.com during a summer charity event. "Last night we had 15 of us out at dinner having a great time. We spent two hours together and not even eating but just hanging out. It is awesome to be part of this group where everybody just helps everybody else."
Kelly indicated the voices of the 2014 squad will, predictably, be among the team's best and most experienced players. Competitors such as Martin, Lombard, senior kicker Kyle Brindza, juniors Keivarae Russell and Sheldon Day, and sophomore Jaylon Smith, among others, fit that description.
All of the above had a chance to learn from the elder Martin, one of 18 two-time captains in program history. With the exception of Lombard and Brindza who'll exhaust eligibility at season's end, each of the names above has a chance to follow suit.
The dog days of August will finalize captaincy appointments from Kelly -- the chosen player's actions both on and off the field thereafter will help determine if Notre Dame reaches its goals in 2014.