It’s rare that a punter arrives with fanfare, and it was no different for Tyler Newsome, the 6-foot-2 ½, 190-pounder out of Carrollton, Ga.
Known as much for his kicking prowess as his punting skills, Newsome bided his time behind Kyle Brindza last year after converting all five of his field-goal attempts as a senior at Carrollton High School while banging 76 percent of his kickoffs for touchbacks.
Yet Newsome will enter the 2015 season almost as secure in his spot as the starting punter as incoming freshman Justin Yoon is secure as Notre Dame’s starting kicker after Brian Kelly anointed Yoon the man on national signing day. There did not appear to be any notable competition on the spring practice field to unseat Newsome.
Newsome punted seven times for a 42.9-yard average in the Blue-Gold Game. Two of his punts landed inside the 20 and one went for a touchback. His long punt was 51 yards.
He likely won’t average 43 yards per punt in ’15, but if he can be consistent and avoid the 30-yard shanks, he can settle into the position and become an effective performer for the Irish. The greatest challenge facing Newsome is consistency.
Newsome appeared to have some difficulty finding the contact point on a consistent basis during the few times since last fall that the media has had viewing access. An inconsistent performance could lead to a few more 4th-and-short gambles over the course of the season, and although Yoon is considered a kicker and not a punter, he could cross-train – like most Irish specialists do – and compete for the job.
Notre Dame has been blessed with competent-to-outstanding punters over the last 20 years, including Hunter Smith, Joey Hildbold, Nicholas Setta, D.J. Fitzpatrick, Geoff Price, Ben Turk and Brindza. Of that group, Newsome’s skill level probably is most comparable to Fitzpatrick’s, who was a more accomplished kicker (22-of-32 in 2004-05) than punter, although he averaged 41.8 yards per attempt in ’04 and 40.3 in ’05.
As punters/kickers go, Newsome’s three-star ranking generally is the pinnacle with most specialists garnering a two-star rating. Newsome’s 38.6-yard punting average as a senior – a statistic that is notoriously exaggerated among high school punters – seems to be an indication that Newsome may have been a bit overvalued coming out of the prep ranks.
To be determined
“We were really impressed with his frame. He has great, long levers. He’s a stickler with his technique…(But) we’d be lying if we said we knew exactly what we are going to get. There are 80,000 people (in the stands) and another five million watching on TV.”
--Assistant coach Scott Booker on Newsome
“I was grateful to red-shirt. I really wanted to play, but it gave me an opportunity to learn from (Brindza). He was light years ahead of me. It’s really humbling. I didn’t start to really compete with him until the end of the year.”