Matt Hegarty's impressed Notre Dame coaches since taking over for an injured Nick Martin last November, but he won't have a chance to stick at center when Martin returns to action in August.
"We don't believe he's our starter," coach Brian Kelly said after Saturday's Blue-Gold game. "We believe Nick Martin is. But he's had a really good spring."
The good news for Hegarty is that he took some reps at guard this spring, and depending on how Notre Dame coaches feel about Mike McGlinchey this summer could wind up starting there this coming season. If McGlinchey isn't ready, Steve Elmer would slide from left guard to right tackle and open up a spot for Hegarty to compete with Conor Hanratty for a starting spot.
But it speaks greater volumes for Martin that he's being handed his job back despite the strides Hegarty made in two starts and 15 spring practices dating back to last fall.
When asked about offensive leadership this spring, quarterback Everett Golson quickly pointed to Martin's presence in spite of his knee injury. For an offense short on seniors, Martin -- a rising senior with two more years of eligibility left -- and graduate student left guard Christian Lombard (who missed most of spring practice with a wrist injury) are likely to shoulder much of that leadership burden this fall.
"Nick's out there every second and he's doing a great job keeping the guys going and taking a leadership role," offensive line coach Harry Hiestand said. "He and Christian, our two oldest guys -- the most experienced and oldest -- are on the shelf. They've done a great job. If you notice, they're there with them every day. They don't miss a meeting, they don't for rehab and they miss very little practice where they're back there coaching the guys. (They've) been great."