Notre Dame has its punter for 2018 in fifth-year captain Tyler Newsome. The Irish now also have their punter for the following four years with the Wednesday commitment from Jay Bramblett (Tuscaloosa Hillcrest High School; Tuscaloosa, Ala.). Bramblett became the 11th commitment in Notre Dame’s class of 2019 with an announcement on Twitter.
Recruiting punters can be tricky. The Irish coaching staff rarely wants to devote more than one scholarship to the position at a time, so a new punter is sought only every four or five years. This just happens to be that spot in the cycle.
Bramblett receives quite strong praise from Chris Sailer of Chris Sailer Kicking, the preeminent specialists training group in the country.
“Jay is a big-time high school punting prospect,” Sailer said to Blue & Gold Illustrated. “A great looking athlete with an explosive leg. He has an ideal frame for a D1 college punter. Jay punts for outstanding distance and big hang time.”
5 p.m. PT … meaning a very early return to Notre Dame
CBS announced the Notre Dame vs. Navy game in San Diego on Oct. 27 will kick off at 8 p.m. ET and be broadcast on CBS. That sounds great: On national broadcast television at evening local time, the sun will set as the game ends.
And the Irish will not get home until 5 or 6 a.m. ET. Figuring the game ends shortly before midnight ET, Notre Dame will be in the air no earlier than 1 a.m. and the direct flight takes at least four hours. By the time the Irish make the 20-minute drive to campus from the South Bend International Airport, it will be pushing 5:30 a.m. ET in a best-case scenario.
The CBS decision guarantees Notre Dame has a minimum of four primetime games this season, with 7:30 p.m. ET kicks set for the three home games against Michigan (Sept. 1), Stanford (Sept. 29) and Florida State (Nov. 10). It is overwhelmingly likely at least one of the trips to Virginia Tech (Oct. 6) and USC (Nov. 24) adds another late kickoff, if not both.
Kelly remains vague re: running backs
The South Bend Tribune’s Eric Hansen spoke with Irish head coach Brian Kelly on Monday before a round of golf at the Kelly Cares Foundation Golf Invitational in southwestern Michigan. In discussing rumors regarding the eligibility of senior Dexter Williams, junior Deon McIntosh and sophomore C.J. Holmes, Kelly did not offer much clarity.
Summary: Williams may or may not miss much of September. McIntosh and Holmes remain off the team, but the figurative door might be open a crack, although it is not open wide enough for both to get through it.
On the need for a balanced roster
In a mailbag last week, The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel pondered why USC has been blown out consistently against top-flight opponents during head coach Clay Helton’s two years at the helm, including last season’s 49-14 loss to Notre Dame.
Irish fans could quickly ask a similar question of Kelly’s last few seasons. In a logical manner, Notre Dame’s shortcoming may be the exact inverse of what Mandel diagnoses as the Trojans’ issue.
“USC is not lacking for skill-position talent, but against those elite intersectional opponents, it’s often been exposed on the line of scrimmage,” Mandel wrote. “… USC, a program we generally think of as teeming with NFL talent, has produced 10 first- or second-round draft picks since 2013. Of those, six were offensive players. Another was all-purpose weapon Adoree’ Jackson. The only guy on the list who played on either line of scrimmage was star DT Leonard Williams.”
In that same time span, a dozen Irish players have been drafted in the first two rounds. Five of those were offensive linemen and two more were tight ends. Only one was a defensive lineman (Stephon Tuitt, 2014). The list also includes two generational linebackers (Jaylon Smith, 2016; Manti Te’o, 2013), but it lacks any other defensive presence.
While the Trojans manage to trot out the speedy receivers, a couple linebackers and the likes of Jackson, they don’t find success in recruiting and/or developing offensive linemen. Notre Dame, meanwhile, can only count Will Fuller as that type of a high-end receiver and struggles to come across impact defensive linemen. Those types of holes keep both programs from finishing the season in the top-five more than once apiece in the decade.
INSIDE THE IRISH READING
— The Heisman odds of Brandon Wimbush & Notre Dame’s opponents
— No. 76 Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman
— No. 75 Josh Lugg, offensive lineman
— No. 74 Liam Eichenberg, starting left tackle
— No. 73 Luke Jones, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
— No. 72 Robert Hainsey, starting right tackle
— No. 71 Alex Bars, left guard and captain
— No. 70 John Dirksen, incoming freshman, offensive lineman
— Kirk Cousins likes throwing the ball to Kyle Rudolph
— How West Virginia is preparing its stars for the biggest year of their lives
— While waiting for football, how about a little hockey?
— A father-son rivalry disguised by a never-ending trip across the country