"No-brainer" for walk-on punter
Though Notre Dame reeled in 24 guys on signing day, the Irish will be welcoming 26 new players to campus come June. Late in the recruiting process, former Harvard commit Andrew Antognoli of Fresno (Ca.) San Joaquin decided to commit to the Irish as a preferred walk-on punter. "Notre Dame has one of the best football programs in the country, and they went undefeated in the regular season," Antognoli said. "The academics aren't going to be any less than they would be at Harvard. I want to major in business, and they have one of the best business schools in the nation." When the time came to make the switch in schools, Antognoli said he didn't hesitate. "It was a no-brainer almost. It's an all-in-one package." Antognoli is excited about the opportunities that await him this upcoming season as a member of the Irish. "The coaches told me they want me competing for the starting job this season," he said. "If I win the starting job, and if I'm worthy, I might get a scholarship. It could happen as soon as this year, but I'm not sure. I just want to win the starting job." Antognoli said that after he heard from Notre Dame towards the end of last season, interest from both parties escalated quickly. "In early December, conversations got serious," Antognoli said. "[Notre Dame wide receivers coach] Denbrock came by my high school and we talked a little. He went back home and watched my film and said he liked what he saw. Then, came the Semper Fi All-American bowl on Jan. 4, and I did pretty well. [Notre Dame special teams coordinator coach] Booker flew out on Jan. 21, and we talked. Later that week, he called and said they wanted me to join their family. I committed right on the spot." Though the 6-foot-2, 195-pound punter has yet to see Notre Dame's campus, he's familiar with the aura and long-standing tradition of the Irish. "They have such great tradition -- 125 years of it," Antognoli said. "They have an incredible fan base that's second to none in my opinion. I've gotten so many tweets from fans welcoming me." Antognoli says he has plans to visit South Bend in the near future. "I haven't visited yet, but I'll get up there in March for spring ball." Last season, Antognoli punted 30 times and average 43.1 yards per attempt. He had a long of 69 yards and also had seven punts inside the 20.