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Irish A-to-Z: Kyle Brindza

May 15, 2014, 3:00 PM EST

Kyle Brindza, Ben Turk AP

Entering his final season in South Bend, specialist Kyle Brindza is a valuable asset for head coach Brian Kelly. The team’s kickoff man, placekicker and punter, Brindza is a one-man special teams unit. And the senior-to-be is one of the best in the country.

Expect Brindza to be a preseason awards candidate, deserved for one of the best clutch kickers in college football. Let’s take a closer look at the Canton, Michigan native.

 

KYLE BRINDZA
6’1″, 236 lbs.
Senior, No. 27

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Rarely is there a battle for the signature of high school kickers, but Brindza chose Notre Dame over Michigan. From Signing Day on, Brian Kelly thought the Irish had found the right guy for the job.

“Kyle, we believe, to be the most talented kicker in the country,” Kelly said on Signing Day. “His versatility, in a sense he can do all the jobs. He can kick off. Obviously extra points and field goals, and he’s an outstanding punter. So he gives us such versatility coming in that he can take all of those positions and compete for all of those positions.”

Brindza’s ability to do that after Kelly inherited a roster bizarrely stacked with scholarship specialists. Charlie Weis had awarded scholarships to Nick Tausch, Brandon Walker and Ben Turk… and former walk-on David Ruffer ended up winning the kicking job and a scholarship.

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Year (2011): Saw time in all 13 games, serving as the Irish’s kickoff specialist. Kicked off 71 times and forced 12 touchbacks.

Sophomore Year (2012): Took over duties as placekicker in addition to kicking off. Made 23 of 31 field goals attempted, surpassing John Carney’s single-season record for makes (21) and attempts (28). Made five field goals against USC to help lead the Irish to victory, including a clutch 52-yarder as time expired in the first half.

Junior Year (2013): Added punting to his duties, seeing action in all 13 games as the team’s primary kickoff man, punter and placekicker. Made 20 of 26 kicks on the year, including a school record three of at least 50 yards. Tied the school record with a 53-yard field goal against Arizona State, the same game where he kicked seven touchbacks. Went a perfect 38 for 38 on extra points. Also averaged 41.1 yards per punt.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

It’s hard not to think that Brindza has pro potential as a kicker after seeing the versatility he displayed during his junior campaign. But even if projecting a college specialist’s pro ceiling is difficult, this much is not: Brindza is a key member of the Irish football team.

At this point in his career, Brindza has surpassed the usual status of kickers and punters — he’s a team leader. That’s come from his efforts in the weight room (not many kickers weigh 236 pounds and sometimes lead the team in special teams tackles) and from being one of the most clutch kickers the school has seen.

Expect Brindza’s number to only get better in his final season. The turf in Notre Dame Stadium will no longer be a shaky sod field. He’ll also have another year of punting under his belt, and the confidence to let it fly with improved cover teams. If Brindza is able to improve on things like touchbacks and net punting yardage (not to mention make over 80 percent of his field goals), he’ll have a chance at getting some postseason award attention and maybe a spot in the NFL Draft.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

After watching David Ruffer fail to recapture the magic he had in his penultimate season, don’t expect Brindza to suffer a similar regression. One, he’s got work to do. Too often, Brindza hooked field goals left, like a golfer who comes over the top of his driver. Brindza’s focus on the fundamentals of kicking and punting will continue, with muscle memory hopefully making the exercise more second nature.

In his fourth season in the program, Brindza is one of the most productive members of the highly touted recruiting class from 2011. He’ll also have the faith of his head coach, capable of talking Kelly into giving him a shot to attempt long-distance field goals that most coaches pass up.

Brindza is coming off a single-bowl record afternoon, where he made five field goals against Rutgers in sloppy Yankee Stadium. With artificial turf coming in at home and growing confidence after making the big kicks before, Brindza’s final season in South Bend should be a good one.

 

 

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The Irish A-to-Z
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  1. onward2victory - May 15, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    I don’t understand why kickers aren’t recruited more often. It seems like such a valuable asset to have a guy that you can count on to knock one through from 42 yards. Many programs don’t have that luxury though. Does anybody have some insight on this??

    • nd1992 - May 16, 2014 at 3:54 PM

      That would be true if there was any certainty that the player you recruit would turn out to be any good.

      It is actually rare for a great high school kicker to become a great college kicker, and rare for a great college kicker to become a great NFL kicker. Look at the NFL – guys who were undrafted and bounced around among many teams suddenly became Pro Bowl caliber kickers. On the other side, Pro Bowl kickers suddenly become unemployed.

      Other positions are primarily based on physical skills. A 6-7 300lb player isn’t going to become 5-11 200 overnight. On the other hand, since so much of kicking is mental, you simply don’t know how anyone will turn out.

      That is why the best approach is simply to bring in a dozen walk-ons and hope that one of them will work out.

      • onward2victory - May 17, 2014 at 1:55 AM

        I guess that makes sense. Thanks.

  2. fnc111 - May 15, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    “What has the sports world come to when we’re talking about idiot kickers? He has ruined kickers for life.”

    • onward2victory - May 15, 2014 at 7:37 PM

      Is that’s quote from when that colts kicker ripped Peyton manning or something??

  3. fnc111 - May 15, 2014 at 8:21 PM

    Yes. It looks like a few other people have bad memories.

  4. bernhtp - May 15, 2014 at 8:46 PM

    Kelly should make Brindza a captain. He’s not just a kicker; he’s a football player with a totally badass competitive attitude.

    • 4horsemenrideagain - May 16, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      great comment bern.

      I bet he’d be an excellent captain and I love how he’s not afraid to stick his nose in and hit a guy. reminds me of kevin butler a bit in that way, though butler wasn’t nearly as big as brindza. all the same, there’s nothing quite like seeing a kicker get a late hit penalty for hitting the returner late/out of bounds. the special teams coordinator should pay them bounties for these plays. ok, maybe that goes too far but you get my drift.

      • bernhtp - May 16, 2014 at 1:48 PM

        Though I remember Kelly’s comment when Cowart (I think?) got a PF penalty. He said something like “Sheesh, he’s the long snapper, the long snapper” in bit of amused frustration.

        Making Brindza a captain would also send a message about making ST more important. Normally a gunner would take that role by nature of the typical personality, but Brindza fills it well.

  5. shaunodame - May 15, 2014 at 11:38 PM

    It wasn’t long ago that we struggled to have ANY consistent option for making Field Goals. The value of having somebody who can consistently make it from the 40+ yard range cannot be overstated. It is a gigantic advantage for the team. Love Brindza!

    • onward2victory - May 16, 2014 at 12:39 AM

      Agreed! So why aren’t kickers more agressivley recruited?!?

  6. fnc111 - May 16, 2014 at 1:36 AM

    If Brindza concentrated solely on punting he’d win the Ray Guy award hands down. Pretty good kicker too.

  7. yaketyyacc - May 16, 2014 at 5:16 AM

    Brindza is good. Hmmmm. Still has room for improvement. Not as automatic as the article tries to make him. Regression is the result of being satisfied with mediocrity.

  8. thefightinfloyds - May 16, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Brindza is a stud. Off topic but it seems that USC RB Ty Isaac is transferring and wants to come to the midwest. Any possibility he comes to ND?

    • nudeman - May 16, 2014 at 12:58 PM

      Zero

      Wouldn’t even visit when he was being recruited. And it’s been on the Northwesterrn board that he doesn’t have the grades for there, so I doubt he’d get in even if he wanted to go to ND.

      Lastly … another 6’1″ RB?
      No thanks.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - May 16, 2014 at 2:42 PM

        6’1″? I thought he was 6’3″…then again, I also thought max redfield was 6’3″

      • nudeman - May 16, 2014 at 3:07 PM

        Moot point. He ain’t comin’ even if he’s 5’2″

      • 4horsemenrideagain - May 17, 2014 at 9:36 AM

        If it was a total non starter I don’t know why bk wouldn’t have said so already or why Isaac made the statement about USC restricting him from nd but that USC may have missed that deadline unless he just wanted to make USC look bad. Sure bk could just be playing the role of gentleman and letting Isaac use nd as leverage for other schools and Isaac could be doing exactly that, but I still think that if it was absolutely a 0% either nd, Isaac or someone close to nd or Isaac would have leaked it being a no go.

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