Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 14 Bryce McFerson, freshman punter facing a Harvard challenge

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Listed measurements: 6-foot-1 ½, 185 pounds.
2022-23 year, eligibility: A freshman, McFerson has all four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: McFerson will have to prove himself in the very first preseason practices. Notre Dame brought in Harvard transfer Jon Sot, a walk-on now, to have some experience at the punter position after Jay Bramblett transferred to LSU, and then Irish soccer goalie Bryan Dowd took part in spring practices to add any springtime depth at the position. Dowd will have plenty of obligations to his primary sport in the fall, so McFerson’s competition will be Sot.
Recruiting: A one-time Wake Forest commit, McFerson wavered quickly once Notre Dame chased him. A quick visit to South Bend in mid-November sealed his flip.

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
It is not by accident that the name of McFerson’s specialist coach is in the background of his All-American graphic on Instagram. Chris Sailer Kicking may be the standard of working with preps kickers, and when they find success, it is appropriate they help publicize Sailer.

WHAT WAS PROJECTED WHEN McFERSON SIGNED IN DECEMBER
“As the Irish realized they would need a punter in 2022, they quickly identified and pursued McFerson, more a compliment than anything that would be written here could be. …

“Current junior Jay Bramblett is expected to transfer, with immediate eligibility, to play closer to his home of Tuscaloosa, Ala., something former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly essentially confirmed in late November. That created the need for McFerson, as he should be the Irish punter in the 2022 opener at Ohio State. …

“Notre Dame will not sign another punter until it expects McFerson to head elsewhere, barring a complete disaster in his performance. Thus, McFerson should handle these duties through the 2025 season.”

2022 OUTLOOK
Sot has enough experience to not be doubted in any respect. Of his 57 punts last season, he set 24 inside the 20-yard line. His career average of 40.8 yards per punt would be a comfortable version of steady for the Irish.

Comparatively, McFerson has a higher long-term ceiling, but a freshman fielding his first collegiate long snap at Ohio State in front of nearly 105,000 fans in 42 days — yes, exactly six weeks — may be a bit too worrisome for Notre Dame.

It will not be too shocking if Sot handles the duties this season. The Irish brought him in with that as a known possibility.

Make no mistake, McFerson will have his chance to prove his leg is too strong to be sidelined due to hypothetical nerves. Special teams coordinator Brian Mason has a very simple method of choosing a punter, he said this spring.

“Whoever punts the ball the farthest the most is going to punt.”

RELATED READING: Brian Mason details how he will decide Notre Dame’s kicker and punter
Notre Dame lands walk-on Harvard grad transfer Jon Sot
Future ND punter Bryce McFerson multitasking to build mental toughness

DOWN THE ROAD
While some things will continue to change under first-year head coach Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame is not about to start carrying multiple punters on scholarship. Even Sot is in South Bend as only a preferred walk-on. The Irish chased McFerson because Bramblett was leaving, something Kelly knew was coming for much of the season, though before he also headed to the SEC, it was presumed Bramblett would transfer to Alabama.

All of which is to say, McFerson should be Notre Dame’s punter through 2025, or perhaps 2026 if Sot indeed handles the duties in 2022.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
From Blake Grupe to Braden Lenzy, the offseason countdown begins anew
No. 99 Blake Grupe, kicker, Arkansas State transfer
No. 99 Rylie Mills, junior defensive lineman, a tackle now playing more at end

No. 98 Tyson Ford, early-enrolled freshman, a defensive tackle recruited as a four-star end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore defensive tackle, still ‘as wide as a Volkswagen’
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a junior defensive tackle who tore his ACL in March
No. 91 Josh Bryan, sophomore kicker
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, early-enrolled freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defensive end, a German project nearing completion
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end
No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior tight end, likely All-American
No. 85 Holden Staes, incoming freshman tight end
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, junior tight end
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, sophomore receiver, former four-star recruit
No. 80 Cane Berrong, sophomore tight end coming off an ACL injury
No. 79 Tosh Baker, one of four young Irish offensive tackles
No. 78 Pat Coogan, sophomore center, recovering from a meniscus injury
No. 77 Ty Chan, incoming offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, sophomore starting left tackle
No. 75 Josh Lugg, sixth-year offensive lineman, likely starting right guard
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard coming off foot surgery
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, senior offensive tackle-turned-guard
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, sophomore offensive tackle, former Auburn pledge
No. 68 Michael Carmody, junior offensive line utility man
No. 65 Michael Vinson, long snapper, ‘Milk’
No. 65 Chris Smith, defensive tackle, Harvard transfer
No. 59 Aamil Wagner, consensus four-star incoming freshman offensive tackle
No. 58 Ashton Craig, incoming freshman center
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, fifth-year defensive tackle, coming off shoulder surgery
No. 56 Joey Tanona, early-enrolled offensive guard coming off a concussion
No. 56 Howard Cross, senior defensive tackle with heavy hands, and that’s a good thing
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, fifth-year offensive lineman, three-year starting center, captain
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, senior defensive tackle, now lighter and a starter
No. 54 Blake Fisher, sophomore starting right tackle, ‘ginormous’
No. 52 Zeke Correll, senior center or perhaps left guard
No. 52 Bo Bauer, fifth-year linebacker, Ironman
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, sophomore offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, sophomore end-turned-linebacker
No. 47 Jason Oyne, sophomore defensive end-turned-tackle
No. 44 Junior Tuihalamaka, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, consensus four-star recruit
No. 44 Alex Peitsch, junior long snapper
No. 42 Nolan Ziegler, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, Irish legacy
No. 41 Donovan Hinish, incoming freshman defensive tackle, Kurt’s brother
No. 40 Joshua Burnham, early-enrolled freshman linebacker-turned-end
No. 34 Osita Ekwonu, senior Vyper end coming off an Achilles injury
No. 31 NaNa Osafo-Mensah, senior defensive end
No. 29 Matt Salerno, fifth-year receiver, punt returner, former walk-on
No. 28 TaRiq Bracy, fifth-year starting nickel back
No. 27 JD Bertrand, senior linebacker recovering from a plaguing wrist injury
No. 25 Philip Riley, sophomore cornerback
No. 25 Chris Tyree, junior running back, possible Irish bellcow
No. 24 Jack Kiser, senior linebacker, second-year starter
No. 23 Jayden Bellamy, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 22 Justin Walters, sophomore safety
No. 22 Logan Diggs, sophomore running back with a shoulder injury
No. 21 Jaden Mickey, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 20 Jadarian Price, early-enrolled freshman running back with a ruptured Achilles
No. 20 Benjamin Morrison, freshman cornerback
No. 18 Chance Tucker, sophomore cornerback
No. 18 Steve Angeli, freshman QB, Blue-Gold Game star
No. 17 Jaylen Sneed, early-enrolled linebacker, Rover of the future
No. 16 Brandon Joseph, Northwestern transfer, preseason All-American, starting safety
No. 16 Deion Colzie, sophomore receiver
No. 15 Tobias Merriweather, freshman receiver, forever a memorable recruitment
No. 15 Ryan Barnes, sophomore cornerback
No. 9 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL

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