SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Danny Spond was named a team captain and awarded the game ball for a game in which he didn't play.
Spond had circled Saturday's game at Air Force on his calendar before a recurrence of hemiplagic migraines ended his playing career in August. Colorado Springs is a short drive south from his hometown of Littleton, Colo., and the game at Air Force is one Spond had looked forward to for years.
While Spond won't play football again, he's traveled with Notre Dame and become almost a personal coach to Jaylon Smith, the ultra-talented freshman who took over for him as the starting "dog" outside linebacker in Bob Diaco's 3-4 defense. On Saturday, Spond was again with Notre Dame — only this time, he walked out to midfield as a team captain.
"It was great," Bennett Jackson, one of Notre Dame's three permanent gameday captains this year, said. "He's really a leader on the team in general, he's a great guy, he's someone that everybody looks up to — including the seniors and guys older than him, everybody respects Spond. It was great for him (for us) to be able to play in his home environment and have him out there with us."
The decision to name Spond a captain for the Air Force game came from coach Brian Kelly, though it didn't come as a huge surprise to the team. After the game, Spond was awarded the game ball and addressed the team.
"He said it's an honor to be out here and be a part of this with you guys, he said he'd do do anything to be out there with you," Jackson said. "'I love each and every one of you guys, just thanks for going out there and competing for me in my hometown.' Which is what everybody did. It just shows what kind of guy he is."