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Reports: Walk-on punter adds depth to special teams

Feb 25, 2013, 2:06 PM EDT

NCAA Football - Wake Forest vs. Clemson - October 17, 2009

Notre Dame may have closed its heralded recruiting class the first Wednesday of February, but it appears their work on next season’s Irish roster isn’t finished. Both Irish Sports Daily and Blue & Gold Illustrated report that Notre Dame will be adding former Wake Forest punter Alex Wulfeck to the roster for next season as a preferred walk-on.

Wulfeck spent the 2011 season as the Demon Deacon’s starting punter before losing the job to redshirt freshman Alexander Kinal last year, and saw time in 2010 as well. As a fifth-year graduated senior he’ll be eligible immediately.

With Ben Turk gone after four years with the Irish, Wulfeck will have an opportunity to compete with Kyle Brindza for the starting job, giving Notre Dame some much needed depth at a key special teams position. They’ll also do so without the use of a scholarship, something that wasn’t much of an option with roster numbers tight.

Both ISD and B&G got some nice quotes out of Wulfeck, who auditioned for Brian Kelly in high school when he was named the best punter at Kelly’s Cincinnati’s summer camp. And while his offseason work and recovery from an injury have Wulfeck confident he can come in and compete for a job, there’s a very real chance we never hear from Wulfeck next season, who in one measure of value isn’t even one of the 85 most important players on the roster

That said, his inclusion on the roster, and this coaching staff’s ability to supplement a thin position group is worthwhile. Under Charlie Weis, the Irish got into the habit of too often adding special teams players to the scholarship count, with multiple kickers, punters, and snappers counting against the 85 man count. Next season, the Irish will have long snapper Scott Daly and kicker/punter Kyle Brindza, with depth coming from a fleet of preferred walk-ons and other developmental prospects. That’s a vastly different version of roster management than we saw in years past.

  1. stedward - Feb 25, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    It’s not like the bar for our punting has been set very high. How come we never get the guys that can reverse the field every time they punt? Turk brought shame upon his family punting heritage.

    • irishal81 - Feb 26, 2013 at 9:10 AM

      Shame? You bring shame upon message board commentors with post like this.

      • stedward - Feb 26, 2013 at 11:20 AM

        It was a joke. He has been inconsistent and he has family in the NFL.

      • dickasman - Feb 26, 2013 at 9:06 PM

        Steward, I thought it was quite the truth. You can also throw the punt return in there in shame dept. Notre dame is one football team even a paraplegic could return punts.

  2. dudeacow - Feb 25, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    I don’t see Brindza winning the punting job, he was a backup to TURK! It’s Antognoli’s or this guy’s job to lose. Also, you haven’t mentioned yet the the Irish added John Chereson as a preferred walk-on kicker.

    • bernhtp - Feb 25, 2013 at 3:34 PM

      Brindza will have the stronger leg, but the placement and consistency may not be there. Splitting practice time and leg reps between the three disciplines might be too much.

    • bernhtp - Feb 25, 2013 at 3:36 PM

      The one other thing Brindza has going for him, at least on punts and kick-offs, is that he is a big boy and a bit of an athlete that can be counted on to make the TD-saving tackle when all else fails.

  3. padomer - Feb 25, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    don’t see how stedward got any thumbs down. All valid points…turk and his predecessors have been painfully brutal and may have lost us some games along the lines (can’t think of anything specific at the moment). But what I can readily recall is punts in flight for like 3 seconds and travel from the 40 to the other 40. Punting is huggggggge, i think our punting last year and years before has been worse than our punt return (or lack thereof)…at least we don’t lose yardage.

    • stedward - Feb 26, 2013 at 11:35 AM

      Thank you. You’d think the patron saint of Fr. Sorin would get more respect.

  4. padomer - Feb 25, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    Some maintain that penn state won the NC by the leg of their punter against Miami way back when (before i was born). Plus that one dude from LSU i think from this year perhaps, or maybe wrong school, but he routinely flipped fields w balls travelin like 60 maybe 70yds sometimes.

    Finally, during Manti-fest (college football awards show), I watched the punter award slide show thingy, was amazed w their boom and accuracy, from all three finalists. Puttin balls inside the 5 like 5-10 times on the year.

    Therefore, I slightly disagree to your point Keith, about the benefit of having non-scholarship punters/kickers. I mean, as always it is always a crapshoot w scholarships at any position, but i have to assume kicking/punting should be among the easiest to evaluate? Dude can boom it on target or not? Lol that’s why I am thoroughly disappointed each time we sign someone who scouts say can but balls in orbit, then miss extra points, shank punts, boom touchbacks from the opponent 45.

  5. padomer - Feb 25, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    yo man, final thought i haveta get off my chest, maybe some of you more experienced domers can shed some light on.
    I was scrolling through the ESPN website, stumbled upon Manti’s 40 time, 4.8 whatever. But attached to it was an argument with skip bayless and stephen a. smith. I know most are thinkiing right now, well that explains it, don’t listen to those guys give u driving directions (though I used to like stephen a, just got a little too racey throughout the years for my taste)…so anyways both continue to bash Manti and how poorly he looked in the interview for a host of reasons. I know the obvious thought as well, how could he look good speaking about something like that. It’d be akin to a politician giving a public speech acknowledging corruption, illegitimate child, cheating what have you…but again not the point.

    The point is, is there is SERIOUS anti-ND hate out there. like, i always knew it persisted, but not to this level. Things people were saying on the message boards were blowing my mind! And the thing is, the responses came in instantly, all from different users, and constantly every second. I tried to reason but it was a moot point as my comment would be washed away to third page in like 30 seconds. The insults ranged from the obvious Manti stuff lacking creativity or form, to ND sucks, to Anti Catholic, to downright fightin words. Has it always been like this? I’ve read of the early early stuff from the 20’s but does anyone have stories wearing ND gear in different college stadiums? Reading this stuff strengthens my fanhood to the ultimate degree (lol whatever that means, or however it helps the team) but its like for real, I got heated up.

    To all the young men on the team, it is you vs. the world. You are public enemy #1. Let that stick in your mind every workout, every practice, every stretch, throw, catch and run. You win, you’re immortal, simple as that. It is ok if you lose, but it is not ok to be out-prepared, out-worked, or out-willed. Okay maybe its not okay if you lose….and you won’t if you stick to those fundamentals. Be killers on the field, the opponents are tryna take your lunch, your pride, YOUR glory. Be Prepared ’13…Go Irish

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Feb 25, 2013 at 10:26 PM

      There has been a long history in this country of anti-Catholic and anti-Irish hatred and prejudice. The country feared that electing the Irish Catholic Kennedy from Massachusetts would put a Papist in the White House who would be beholden to Rome because of his beliefs. KKK hates Catholics almost as much as African-Americans.

      • papadec - Feb 25, 2013 at 11:09 PM

        Al Smith lost his election bid because of the strength of the KKK and general anti-Catholic sentiments. And yes, the ND hatred has been going on for a long, long time because it is a Catholic university and they have been successful in academics & sports, not just football.

    • dillonbigred - Feb 26, 2013 at 8:15 AM

      At Georgia Tech, in I believe the ’70s, the fans threw fish at the ND players. My father was wearing his ND hat at Michigan State, and was tripped and taunted. He was 66 years old. My wife grew up attending a Baptist church and now attends a nondenoninational evangelical “bible” church. I have been stunned over what many think of the Catholic church and Catholics. They truly think we are lost, and seem to believe every anti-Catholic stereotype and rumor out there. They choose to magnify any differences, and ignore the great truths that we as christians share. Ignorance does breed contempt, and I guess, hate.

      In the end remember that the bile you speak of comes from a relatively few sad little souls lurking on the internet where they can spew with anonymity. Where else can they go that someone might listen to their pathetic rants?

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Feb 26, 2013 at 12:14 PM

        Your last point is an excellent one. The internet makes us slow down and listen to idiots when, alternatively, if they were spewing this nonsense on some street corner, we’d just blow on by.

  6. padomer - Feb 25, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    lmao oh god, an internet keyboard fight on an espn website got me rocked n locked into locker-room mode at halftime trailing by 7 to my highschool rival. haha sorry boys, ima layoff espn message boards and ima layoff sam adams before i post on here!

    • papadec - Feb 25, 2013 at 11:17 PM

      pad – since I can’t drink anymore (because of meds) don’t give up the Sam Adams – it’s nice to know that someone can still enjoy ’em.

  7. papadec - Feb 25, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    Keith – you mention a “fleet” of preferred walk-on players. How many? At what positions? thanks

    • dudeacow - Feb 26, 2013 at 2:23 PM

      Punter: Andrew Antognoli, now this guy
      Kicker: John Chereson

  8. idratherbeinsouthbend - Feb 26, 2013 at 12:34 AM


    Did you know that punting the ball (and kicking field goals for that matter) is the wrong choice more than 90 percent of the time? There are very few times in a football game where kicking the ball (albeit field goal, XP, or punt) is statistically the correct decision.

    So, can a punter be a weapon, (shrugs) i guess? But he’s a weapon that you use ONLY in dire situations (ie 4th and 15 on your own 20).

    Suprisingly enough, the one time that a kicker isn’t used enough is on kick offs….the onside kick is statistically a better decision than kicking to your opponent the majority of the time.

  9. 4horsemenrideagain - Feb 26, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    good grief, it’s not just anti-ND, it is definitively anti-catholic and it’s not just on espn. read the washington post or ny times any day of the week, scroll the huffington post, slate, salon or various other self-proclaimed “progressive” media outlets and it jumps off the page. there is no coverage of anything catholic, unless it involves a chance to level criticism and scorn. any chance to take a shot at the vatican, the pope or anything else catholic and its open season for these types, who ironically, consider themselves the educated and enlightened members of society.

    i’ve always just dismissed the bias as a result of faux intellectuals threatened by an institution that is consistent and doesn’t hem and haw with the changing times to placate a fickle public. i suppose for ND’s sports teams, the tradeoff is that while they are held to a higher standard and subjected to a different type of media treatment than other schools’ teams, ND’s fan base supports and even adores its athletes in a way unlike other schools.

  10. idratherbeinsouthbend - Feb 26, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    The most discouraging thing about the anti-ND hate/rhetoric is the people that it comes from. Stephen A. and Skip Bayless are the perfect example (throw Rick Reilly in that mix too). These guys were ALL respectable, quality journalists. They covered their respective “beat” and reported the news, interjecting opinions whenever they decided it was appropriate.

    Now…they’re media whores. They have a script. The are on TV shows with producers that say, “here’s your opinion”…..or they write for websites that say….”here’s your opinion”

    THAT is the shame of it all, especially with a guy like Rick Reilly, and even Stephen A. They used to be journalists, but now they’re hand puppets. Somebody sticks an arm up their ass and makes them talk….and they, as former journalists, help apply the lubricant to their expansive anal sock puppets with one hand while they count their whorish dollars with the other.

  11. idratherbeinsouthbend - Feb 26, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    “anal sock puppets” (TM) :)

  12. padomer - Feb 27, 2013 at 2:01 AM

    dillon, man thats downright despicable…sorry to hear that. and your last point was dead on, i guess i was just overwhelmed by the amount of bile and frequency (every 3 seconds!). And I agree with you all whole heartedly…if Manti played at say Clemson this would probably be close to a non-story. I mean it would probably be mentioned i suppose, but it wouldn’t result in the kid (22 years old), or perhaps more accurately “man-child,” having to defend his character to the core…after being a VICTIM! not saying the situation wasn’t strange but definitely overblown, and conclusions made entirely based upon the school he went to and the religion attached to the school. Shoot if he went to BYU it might be politically incorrect to say the things said about Manti.

    another observation, while usually half-time of home games (alll games) for me are opportunities to re-up on beverages, food, what have you. But I always come back in time to see the brief 5 minute clips of ND students and faculty accomplishing breath-taking feats. When I watch, I’m like wait they just did what?! And all schools perform services to varying degrees that get recognition at halftime and are admirable as well, but the things they do at ND are downright inspirational. I remember this year something to the affect of the science lab being able to treat some kind of health risk/condition in Africa more efficiently, that alone increased life expectancy rates by decades probably. I forget exactly what it was. But no, forget about that stuff. Forget about the love and generosity. Lets focus on rogue individuals then caste an entire religion as fill in the blank. Oh wait, no catholics in trouble, fine what about the Inquisition, or the crusades, or middle ages Papal corruption yeaaaa that should still strike a nerve w the masses.

    For the record I’m agnostic, but I love the idea of Catholicism. I don’t go beyond that because it would be disingenuous and disrespectful to be a hypocrite. Relevant or not, I’m just trying to provide an objective observation from the outside, and the hate is real, and discouraging.

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