Joshua Bryan had to wait so long for a Notre Dame scholarship offer, he committed to Colorado. Then the kicker had to wait for the offer to be a bit more sincere, so it took three-plus months for him to flip his commitment, which he did Tuesday evening. If he now has to wait until 2022 to be the starting Irish kicker, it will fit the theme.
With current senior kicker Jonathan Doerer saying last month he is “most likely” returning to Notre Dame in 2021, courtesy of the NCAA’s universal eligibility mulligan this season due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bryan (Sierra Canyon High School; Chatsworth, Calif.) should expect to be used sparingly next year.
“Going to a school like Notre Dame and sitting out one year to gain experience and knowledge under a fifth-year guy who is returning, I don’t see that as a downside or an issue,” Bryan told Carter Karels of the South Bend Tribune. “I think that’s actually invaluable for me to get that feeling before I start the next year rather than just get thrown in.”
Bryan’s initial wait came not because the Irish did not want him, but because there is a bounty of uncertainty around roster construction currently, not an exact science in normal times. Shortly after his early August commitment to the Buffaloes, Notre Dame special teams and recruiting coordinator Brian Polian extended an offer, but in a bit of common recruiting nuance, it was not inherently an offer for Bryan to commit to yet.
It was enough motivation for him to travel to South Bend for a walk around campus devoid of football staff or facilities, thus fitting within the rules of an extended recruiting dead period but also giving Bryan a chance to envision a future.
“Specifically school-wise, the difference is I feel like a degree from Notre Dame is more important, more value than a degree at Colorado to me,” he said.”
The 21st commit in the Irish class of 2021, Bryan is expected to sign his National Letter of Intent next month during the early signing period beginning Dec. 16.
Natural inclination and an understanding of counting stats suggest Doerer’s plan to return should lead to a few chances to place his name atop Notre Dame’s record books. However, he is more likely to end up just short courtesy of the kicker he backed up for two seasons. As a four-year starter, Justin Yoon’s status as the all-time leading Irish scorer (and Kyle Brindza’s lead in career field goal numbers) will remain safe unless Doerer suddenly takes on a record-setting pace, something that would arguably be detrimental to Notre Dame’s success given that would presumably come at the expense of red-zone offensive efficiency.
But Doerer is on pace to be the most accurate kicker in Irish history.
Field-goal percentage record, minimum 50 career attempts: Yoon, 59-of-73, 80.8 percent.
Doerer to date: 30-of-37, 81.1 percent.
Point-after percentage record, minimum 50 career makes: Nick Setta, 104-of-105, 99.0 percent.
Doerer to date: 98-of-99, 99.0 percent.
He also made a pair of 50-yard field goals in 2019, putting Doerer within range of Brindza’s career record of four.