Reports: Walk-on punter adds depth to special teams

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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.