Notre Dame's Zack Martin returns to help protection, potential RB transition

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin opted to return to college instead of make the leap to the NFL, and the Fighting Irish will benefit greatly.

Offensive tackle Zack Martin will return to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for his final year of eligibility, and the news for head coach Brian Kelly's team is two-fold -- at least.

Martin, who plays left tackle, was a main reason that Irish quarterback Everett Golson was sacked just 13 times in the 2012 regular season, writes CSN Chicago's JJ Stankevitz. The fourth-year junior will return for his final go-around in 2013 despite being considered a first-day NFL draft selection, and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin knows how valuable he'll be for Notre Dame:

"Ridiculous," the coach told Stankevitz. "I tell coach, he should have two scholarships. And he's been so good every week, so, so consistent every play. He rarely misses his block, rarely ever."

But the pass protection is only part of it. Leadership responsibilities are already part of Martin's resume as the co-captain for the Fighting Irish offense this season.

And with running back Cierre Wood still mulling over his potential value in the upcoming draft, a more experienced offensive line will help in the run game if there is a transition involving Wood's replacements.

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