- Associated Press - Thursday, September 24, 2015

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Defensive back Matthias Farley is always ready to be the next man in for sixth-ranked Notre Dame.

Farley was ready as a redshirt freshman when as a converted receiver he was thrust into a starting role as a safety after a season-ending injury to Jamoris Slaughter. He started 11 games that season en route to the national title game.

He was ready last season for his new role as nickel back after struggling the season before with a shoulder injury. He was ready on Saturday when Drue Tranquill became the sixth Irish player to go down with a season-ending injury. Farley forced a fumble on his second play at safety and finished with four tackles.

“He’s been a starter. He’s been not a starter. He’s been the special teams captain. He’s been just about everything in his time here,” linebacker Joe Schmidt said.

Although he’s not a starter this season, Farley is a captain. While that is a bit unusual, it’s not unheard of at Notre Dame. When the Irish (3-0) face Massachusetts (0-2) on Saturday, Farley will be looking to chip in wherever needed.

“He makes a huge impact in special teams, as well as he does so many jobs and is counted on on defense as somebody that makes plays,” coach Brian Kelly said. “He’s somebody that mentors all the young guys. He carries such a huge amount of respect from not only his class, but the younger players, as well.”

Farley, who is from Charlotte, North Carolina, showed how much playing for Notre Dame means to him when captains were named. He was overcome by emotion talking with the media, saying he could never have envisioned being named captain after all the ups and downs he’s been through, calling it the honor of his life.

He broke down in tears talking about calling his brother, Nathan, to tell him the news. His older brother’s football career at Coastal Carolina was cut short because of injuries. Farley was in high school at the time and switched from playing soccer to football as a high school junior.

“He’s the reason I started playing football,” he said. “He’s had a huge impact on my life and everything I’ve chosen. I don’t know if I’d play football if it weren’t for him having everything taken away.”

What makes Farley special, Kelly and teammates say, is the way he treats and works with teammates. Kelly talked about how Farley has a handshake for every player that’s in his line for stretching.

“He just has a relationship with everybody that makes him beloved by all of his players,” Kelly said.

Kelly also likes that Farley isn’t happy with his role waiting to be the next guy in.

“He wants to be out there starting. He believes that he can help this football team as a starter. But he’s one of those guys that makes this 2015 football team special in that he’ll do whatever is necessary for the good of the team,” Kelly said.

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