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Preseason Practice Update - August 20

Tyler Newsome receives some instruction from special teams coordinator Scott Booker prior to the spring game.

Aug. 20, 2015

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. -

Much has been made over the spring, summer and preseason about how Notre Dame returns 17 of 22 starters from 2014, a sum which does not include KeiVarae Russell, effectively giving the defense 11 returning starters. Much less has been made of the fact that you can extend 17 of 22 to be 17 of 24 by omitting the kicker and punter positions, both of which were held by Kyle Brindza in both 2013 and `14.

One significant reason for the lack of chatter has been the positive energy surrounding anticipated starting punter Tyler Newsome and kicker Justin Yoon.

Newsome spent 2014 as an understudy to the senior Brindza. The sophomore from Carrollton, Georgia, kept a close eye on the school's all-time leader in field goals and the professionalism with which he went about his daily punting chores as well.

"Kyle was a great mentor," Newsome said. "He competed with me every day. I'm grateful. He showed me what it takes to be a good Division I punter in terms of the right mindset. You have to have a short-term memory. You have good punts and you have bad punts, but the most important punt is the one that you're on. You can't let things affect you."

Newsome has shown good dedication to his craft. His time with both long snapper Scott Daly and the Irish punt coverage unite in practice has paid dividends thus far during camp.

"As a unit, we want to be the best in the country," Newsome said. We're putting everything together to do that. It's just a matter of execution. I feel more confident than last year. I know how everything works now. I know what it takes. I want to be dependable. I want the team to know that, when I go out there, I'm going to do my job."

 

 

Yoon is just learning how to do that at the collegiate level after excelling in high school. The Nashville, Tennessee native was the No. 1 kicking prospect in the nation as rated by 247Sports.

Yoon attended Milton Academy in suburban Boston, an experience which has helped prepare him for Notre Dame. For many freshmen, the transition to a higher level of football pales to what comes with their first experiences living away from home. Yoon has lived in a dorm room, made friends with strangers and excelled in a rigorous academic setting 1,000 miles from his family's supporting nest.

Not surprisingly, his Irish transition has been a smooth one to date.

"It's been pretty good so far," Yoon said. "I was treated pretty well coming in here beginning with the summer school program. The guys were able to open up and welcome me in. I feel pretty much part of the family now. It's been a great experience."

One thing which did not go unnoticed about the kicking game for Notre Dame in 2014 were challenges with the holder position. Sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer has held that spot throughout camp and has worked effectively with long snapper Scott Daly and Yoon. The trio has gelled nicely over the summer and preseason camp.

"Coming in, I noticed that they want to become the best that they can," Yoon said of Daly and Kizer. "They work for it. They strive for it. They expect me to be accountable for what I do and I feel accountable for what they do. They want me to teach them and they want to teach me. It's been a great couple of months that I've been here with them."

A freshman kicker is not unusual at Notre Dame. Brandon Walker held down that role in 2007. Future NFL All-Pro punter Craig Hentrich is the most notable freshman place kicker in Irish lore, converting on eight of his 15 field goal attempts in 1989. Yoon's short-term goal is at hand. He knows that Notre Dame can also help make his long-term goals obtainable.

"The first day when I came through, I thought that this place has some kind of feeling," Yoon recalled. "It's a feeling of tradition. I can definitely feel it. There's something special about it that I'm not exactly sure how to explain yet or what the feeling even means. But, what it means to be here is the fact that I can pursue and strive for what I want to become."

Thursday's practice ended with work on the two-minute drill. On its first drive, the first-team offense stalled out at around the 35-yard line. Yoon ran onto the field for a 52-yard game-winning field goal. The scenario was imaginary. The kick was real and, from Daly to Kizer to Yoon, the kick was true as it almost precisely bisected the uprights and cleared the cross bar.

Should that practice boot prove to be an accurate harbinger of good things to come, it might be several years before the Irish again worry about replacing a kicker or punter.

PLUMERI IMPRESSES IRISH
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly will bring in guest speakers throughout the season, and make no mistake, Wednesday night's visit from Joe Plumeri will be remembered for years to come.

Plumeri is vice chairman of the First Data Board of Directors. He was originally appointed to the Board and as a senior advisor to KKR in August 2013. Since then Plumeri also has been serving as senior advisor to First Data Chairman and CEO Frank Bisignano, and as the head of First Data's client delivery, innovation and marketing organization. He assumed the vice chairman role in May, 2014.

Plumeri spoke to the team for about 45 minutes.

"I thought he was one of the very best public speakers I've ever seen," Joe Schmidt said. "I thought he had a great message. With his life story, he embodied everything that he talked about. You could see that he lived his ideals. I thought it was a great speech. He seems like a great guy and I'm looking forward to reading his book."

"I felt like he was talking directly to me," Malik Zaire said. "Everything that I try to help bring to the team, he was highlighting. He made an emphasis on it and said how important it was. That's something I could relate to and, hopefully, something everybody could relate to. To see he was doing so many great things stemming from the same kind of relationship that I have runs together. Like he said, anything is possible."

HART, ISMAIL HONORED
Leon Hart and Raghib "Rocket" Ismail were two of the 75 players honored this morning by the Football Writers Association of America to the organization's 75th Anniversary All-America team. Founded in 1941, the FWAA has presented an All-America team annually since 1944 which the group's national membership and a blue ribbon committee whittled down to three 25-man teams.

Hart earned a spot on the first-team at defensive end. The 1949 Heisman Trophy winner, Hart was a three-team FWAA All-American and remains as one of only two linemen to ever claim the Heisman, joining Yale's Larry Kelley (1936). Hart's Irish teams never lost a game, going a combined 36-0-2 with three consensus national championships. A two-way player, Hart won claimed the 1949 Heisman Trophy in a landslide vote.

Ismail made the second-team as a returner. A two-time first-team All-American and the runner-up to BYU's Ty Detmer for the 1990 Heisman Trophy, the multi-faceted Ismail was a threat to score whether rushing, catching or returning the ball. He claimed the 1990 Walter Camp Player of the Year award after carrying the ball 67 times for 537 yards and three touchdowns, catching 32 passes for 699 yards with two TDs, returning 14 kickoffs for 336 yards and a TD while also returning 13 punts for 151 yards.

The full FWAA 75th Anniversary All-America teams can be viewed here.

CRAWFORD LOST FOR SEASON
Irish head coach Brian Kelly announced Wednesday night that promising freshman defensive back Shaun Crawford has been lost for the season after tearing his ACL during Wednesday morning's practice. Crawford had looked sharp during camp and was one of several freshmen pushing for playing time this fall. Crawford took to twitter late Wednesday night with the right mindset for a full recovery from his upcoming surgery.

Today's Video Content

After producing a mountain of content since camp began two weeks ago, the Fighting Irish Media video team caught its collective breath on Thursday. In the meantime, catch up on any of FIM's impressive array of exclusive content that you may have missed over the past few weeks. Full preseason camp coverage can be found here.

Today's Top Tweets

-- written and compiled by Leigh Torbin, athletic communications assistant director, and Michael Bertsch, director of football media relations

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