Notre Dame solidified its kicking game, and perhaps satisfied its specialty units scholarship allotment for the foreseeable future with the addition of Carrollton, Ga., kicker/punter, Tyler Newsome. Newsome will join a pair of preferred walk-ons and long-snapper Scott Daly over the next three-plus seasons to give the Irish depth, but at the expense of just two scholarships for three positions.
The first relative surprise of the 2014 recruiting cycle occurred over Notre Dame
's June camp extravaganza when standout kicker/punter Tyler Newsome pledged his allegiance to Brian Kelly's Irish. Newsome is the nation's 33rd ranked kicker and 17th-ranked punter entering his senior season, and its his dual prospects that lend credence to what on the surface appeared to be a luxury addition to future rosters.
His addition was a surprise to our staff and subscribers, but a closer look shows I lacked the foresight possessed by the Irish staff (who knew!?).
I noted multiple times on the Irisheyes.com Big Board that Notre Dame need not take a punter, kicker, or long-snapper in this recruiting cycle, not with K/P Kyle Brindza, LS Scott Daly on scholarship, and a pair of preferred walk-on freshmen, John Chereson (K) and Andrew Antognoli (P) available. But Brindza graduates and exhausts his eligibility after the 2014 season. Newsome can step in his stead and compete at two positions -- at the expense of one scholarship.
Below is a look at Notre Dame's 2014 specialty units, both scholarship and preferred walk-on players, when Newsome hits campus next summer.
Senior K/P Kyle Brindza (2014): Has not yet punted in a college game (he excelled in high school) but last year set program kicking records for field goals made (23) and attempted (31). Brindza has also served as the team's kickoff specialist over the last two seasons.
Junior LS Scott Daly (2016): Scholarship player will debut as the team's long-snapper this fall as a redshirt-freshman, eligible through 2016. Assuming Daly reaches his potential as the nation's No. 1 LS prospect from the 2012 cycle, Notre Dame need not recruit another until at least the 2016 season.
Sophomore P Andrew Antognoli (2016-17): Former Harvard pledge will compete as a true freshman with Brindza and 5th-year Wake Forest transfer Alex Wulfeck for the team's punting duties this fall.
Sophomore K John Chereson (2016-17): Likely to receive a redshirt season in 2013 with both Brindza and proven fifth-year senior Nick Tausch (16 of 20 in his Irish career) both on the current roster.
Freshman Tyler Newsome: Has the luxury of adding strength/technique as a true freshman with Brindza and the preferred walk-ons in the mix entering 2014.
Should Newsome (not to mention Antognoli and/or Chereson) prove reliable in 2014 practices, Kelly and his staff can approach the 2015 cycle without searching for a kicker or punter prospect, instead using that scholarship to bolster another position of need. And if two of the three emerge as the staff expects, Notre Dame need not sign a punter, kicker, or long-snapper until the 2016 season.
In 2012, five of Notre Dame's 79 scholarships were allotted to special teams players (K, P, LS). Thanks to Newsome, in 2015, that total could be as low as two of (a hopeful) 85.
Rarely has one scholarship coupled with two post-Signing Day invitations offered such promise at two crucial positions -- both of which are far more important to on field successes than in the mythical annual recruiting rankings.
For previous "Recruit Fit" columns covering Notre Dame's 2014 class, click the links below:
The First Five Fit -- a look at pledges Greer Martini, Justin Brent, Jimmy Byrne, Jay Hayes, and Andrew Trumbetti.
Quenton Nelson (Nelson's review examines the position's evolution during the Kelly era as well.)