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January 7, 2013

Profound influence : With the aid of his St. John's Prep background, Kelly takes Notre Dame into national title game tonight

(Continued)

Kelly’s teammates never did buy his “not much of a player” self-assessment. Instead, they recall a kid who was a complementary player, someone who filled a role and completely bought into the team concept.

“Brian never complained when he wasn’t starting,” said Brian Currie, currently a Hollywood screenwriter and actor who was a Prep tri-captain and linebacker out of Peabody as a senior in 1978. “All he did was master the playbook and work his way into a starting position. He should be proud of that and never say anything to the contrary about his ability.

“I just remember how he paid attention to detail. He was meticulous about it, and he just hung in there and became a starter as a senior. It just shows you what tenacity can do, and he was a great teammate.”

“Brian was in the middle of a linemen mix that would have put anyone to the test,” added Mike Smerczynski of Peabody, the quarterback of the 1977 team who would end playing at Harvard. The group included Bobby Marraffa (Wesleyan), Brian Gildea (Columbia), Chris Davis (Harvard), Roy Norden (BC), Andy Coady (BU), Rick St. Germain (Holy Cross), Dave Cecere (Holy Cross), Gary Pfaff (played pro football in Italy), Mike Newhall (three-sport athlete at the Prep who went on to Providence), Jeff Connolly (Middlebury) and Currie (Middlebury).

Kelly always faced long odds against that type of in-house competition, yet he persevered. And he benefitted from Glatz’s coaching philosophy.

“It was a ‘We are in this together’ approach,” said Smerczynski. “Glatz would preach that the starters had a large number of obligations. It was do well, win and get your other teammates into the game. The inclusivity part was huge. It turned out to be pretty powerful stuff to have a team where everyone possesses a stake in the outcome. Brian was right in the middle of this type of effort.

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