NOTRE DAME — It was an honor that reduced Kapron Lewis-Moore to tears.
The 6-foot-4, 306-pound defensive end was just named a captain of the 2012 Notre Dame football team, alongside teammates Tyler Eifert, Manti Te’o and Zack Martin.
It had been a long journey for the fifth-year senior, who was victim to an MCL injury last season and fought back in the spring to regain his starting spot on the line.
“I was thinking about five years ago when I came here as a 225-pound supposed outside linebacker,” Lewis-Moore said. “Now, it’s just an unbelievable journey. It’s a big responsibility, but I’m going to keep being me and have fun with it.”
Head coach Brian Kelly announced the team captains after practice earlier in the week. Last year, he named Harrison Smith the team’s captain and selected a game day co-captain to join Smith before each coin toss.
“Four captains that represent all of the standards that I want here at Notre Dame for our players,” Kelly said. “I think what struck me more than anything else is when they got out before their teammates, the things that they said about being a captain at Notre Dame ... you would love to see the passion and the love for Notre Dame and the teammates, and they have great representatives.”
Lewis-Moore and Te’o say they were both humbled by the selections.
“I really, honestly can’t explain it. It’s something I’m so humbled (by),” Lewis-Moore said. “Being here five years, it’s like a dream come true. Honestly, I had no idea. But the coaches saw something in me that I kind of didn’t see in myself.”
Te’o said he wasn’t expecting to be chosen as captain, making him probably the only person in the program to not see the obvious choice.
“When coach announced it, I was really humbled,” he said. “It’s kind of like I never thought it would happen. (I’m) a guy from Hawaii, just trying to make his name and do well in football and help his team win.”
But to the senior linebacker who will graduate ranked among Notre Dame’s all-time greats, being named captain is nothing more than a title.
“With that title, it doesn’t change the way I do things,” Te’o said. “I’m just still trying to serve my teammates the best way I know how, both on and off the field, by the way I play, by being an example to them and just doing whatever I can to help our team win. I talked to the team afterwards. I told them I loved them.
“The best leaders serve. That’s the best quality of a leader— when he serves — and has the trust of all his teammates. That comes through service. It comes from as a leader, willing to put everything on the line for them.”
Eifert and Martin both said they have never been big on vocal leadership; they’ll let their play do the talking. Eifert realizes his new responsibilities may call for a more outspoken presence.
“I think it just comes with the position,” he said. “It’s something I need to work on but I’m going to do what I need to do to get the job done.”
Martin spared any dramatics when addressing his teammates after being named starter.
“I just told them they can expect the same thing every day, I’m going to come out and be a worker on the field at all times,” he said. “I’m more of an example guy, maybe more vocal to the O-line, but definitely more of an example to the whole team.”