Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Notre Dame Football Position Preview: Kicker and Punter

Previously Covered
Running Back
Wide Receiver
Tight End
Offensive Line
Defensive Line

Spotlight: Brandon Walker


Also Returning: Ryan Burkhart, Eric Maust

Lost: Geoff Price (graduation), Xavier Burton, Nate Whitaker

Gained: Joe Bizjak (walk-on)

On a team run by an offensive-minded coach, you'd expect placekicker to be a position of strength - converting all those extra points, or kicking field goals on the rare ocassions when the offense can't find the end zone. Or perhaps kickoff specialist - following each score with a booming touchback.

Oddly enough, though, the most consistent special teams play Charlie Weis has gotten during his tenure has been from his punters. Geoff Price is gone, but he leaves the position in capable hands. Two-sport athlete Eric Maust has seen playing time in each of the last three seasons, and has already proven his worth. This year, he starts the season as the team's top punter.

With little reason to question Maust's ability, the spotlight falls on placekicker Brandon Walker. Nate Whitaker is no longer on the roster, so Walker will be the man at placekicker no matter how long the kick.

Ryan Burkhart starts the year as the Irish kickoff specialist. Burkhart came into Notre Dame with a decent amount of praise, but has been plagued by inconsistency. Interestingly enough, while Brandon Walker was a very good punter in high school, Burkhart is listed as the backup punter on the latest depth chart.