Punter Tyler Newsome didn’t take long to establish himself. After spending a season behind Kyle Brindza, the sophomore burst onto the scene averaging 44.5 yards per punt, a new weapon in a Notre Dame special teams that was breaking in two rookies specialists.
A big, physical kicker with the type of long body that helps boom punts, Newsome should only get better with experience. That gives Brian Kelly a kickoff specialist who can force opponents to start at the 25-yard line and a punter who is capable of always flipping the field. Newsome is also a character with a unique personality, perfectly hardwired to live up to the reputation of the quirky punter.
6'2.5", 210 lbs.
Junior, No. 85, Punter
No specialist earns a lofty star ranking, but Newsome did get three stars from Rivals and an invite to the Semper Fidelis All-American game. He was the No. 4 ranked punter according to Kohl’s Kicking School.
All-State in Georgia, Notre Dame offered him a scholarship after camping in South Bend.
Freshman Season (2014): Did not see action.
Sophomore Season (2015): Saw action in all 13 games, handling kickoff duties and punts. Averaged 44.5 yards per kick with a long of 62 yards. Also managed 21 touchbacks on 84 kickoffs.
WHAT WE SAID LAST YEARI didn’t set the bar that high for Newsome, mostly because I remembered his struggles in the Blue-Gold game. He was more than just average, he was really good.
The best part of this projection? I don’t think Notre Dame’s punter is going to get much work this season. The Irish offense should render Newsome fairly obsolete, though I do hope his ability to directional punt is better than most young kickers.
If you’re looking for something out of Newsome, it’s the hope that he’s consistent. If anything can kill the momentum of a football team, it’s a punter who might send one 45 yards on his first attempt only to mishit one 25 yards a kick later. (Fans might have their suspicions who I’m thinking about here.)
Do I care if Newsome has as strong of a leg as a guy like Brindza? Not really, as long as he catches the snap, kicks the ball consistently, and understands that a punt downed inside the 15 is a lot better than the one that barely rolls into the end zone.
Pegging a punter’s potential is a tricky thing. Especially when he’ll be playing for an offense that isn’t expected to kick the football too often. But Newsome’s impact on the game can come from his ability to flip the field, helping the Irish win the field position battle while giving Brian VanGorder’s defense a little bit of breathing room.
If he builds on his debut season, Newsome could get a look at the next level, especially because his size and length should translate into more power.
If 2015 was about exceeding expectations, 2016 will be about performing with the bar raised. Newsome’s rookie season was a good one. But there’s room for improvements.
Expect new special teams analyst Marty Biagi to take Newsome under his wing. The former college punter will likely spend time refining Newsome’s craft, looking to add hang time to his punts and kicks, and making sure there are more booming moon shots than side-footed shanks.
Notre Dame doesn’t want to have a celebrated punter—and they won’t as long as the offense performs. But the combo of Newsome and Yoon has the chance to be one of the better special teams batteries in America.
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