Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 39 Jonathan Doerer, junior kicker
Listed Measurements: 6-foot-3, 200 pounds.2019-20 year, eligibility: A junior, Doerer has two seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2019.Depth chart: The only scholarship kicker on the roster, expect Doerer to handle kickoff and placekicking duties this year, despite past struggles.Recruiting: Notre Dame began chasing Doerer late in the 2017 cycle, convincing him to decommit from Maryland the week before National Signing Day.
CAREER TO DATE
Doerer has worked largely as a kickoff specialist the last two seasons, at timesstruggling to keep the ball in bounds and where the Irish coaching staff wants it.
2017: 32 kickoffs, 9 touchbacks, 1 out of bounds.2018: 56 kickoffs, 25 touchbacks, 3 out of bounds.
Those boots out of bounds prove costly, but it is worth noting Doerer found the end zone more consistently last year.
He also worked as the placekicker against Navy with Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer Justin Yoon sidelined for a week. Doerer converted a 30-yard field goal and 5-of-6 point after attempts, missing his first.
“It was good for me to settle down and get back to it,” Doerer said in April of that October appearance. “It had been two years since I kicked field goals in a game. It took a little bit of time to get back into that rhythm of kicking a field goal and then kicking off.”
WHAT HAPPENED THIS SPRING?
Doerer went 1-of-2 from range and 6-of-6 on point after attempts in the Blue-Gold Game this spring. His missed field goal hit the left upright, missing by inches. For efficiency’s sake on a mid-June weekend, let’s pull from the ensuing “Leftovers & Links” article …
The good news: Both field goal attempts had plenty of distance. The Notre Dame fret: Doerer’s kicks tend to move right-to-left, making that left upright perhaps a future impediment.
“If you hit a good ball, it’ll move left a little bit, just like hitting a drive in golf,” Doerer said afterward. “I take that into account, especially from longer distances, where it could matter more.”
That was a 39-yard attempt Saturday, not all that long, but then again, hitting the upright is not that far off. Not like sending a kickoff out of bounds, a repeated mistake from the last two seasons of which Doerer took ownership.
“When I hit a ball well, it’s going to go right-to-left a little bit, but obviously not drastic enough to go out of bounds,” he said. “Those were just misses.”
WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“As a freshman, Doerer eventually proved his ability to handle the specialty duties by pinning Wake Forest returners inside the five-yard line six of nine times, with the other three landing as touchbacks. The Demon Deacons couldn’t risk the ball bouncing away from the end zone, but fielding a kickoff at the three-yard line after it has decent hang time is, and indeed was, a recipe for poor field position.
“No longer. The NCAA has now adopted a rule wherein such a kickoff could be fair caught and the ball would be subsequently placed at the 25-yard line. There is no longer anything to gain from lofting a kickoff to the two-yard line rather than simply blasting it out of the end zone.
“Doerer will still be asked to do the latter, but the uniqueness of his abilities has been reduced drastically.”
There are three aspects to Doerer’s expected duties this fall. His point after work probably should not be a concern, and that is a need the Irish should have often given what is expected to be a potent offense. That offense will also, theoretically, minimize the length of Doerer’s field goal attempts, helping reduce the effects of that right-to-left movement.
Then there will be the kickoffs, following those point after attempts and any made field goals. And if Doerer continues to struggle with consistency on kickoffs, costing Notre Dame field position, it will be a headache Irish head coach Brian Kelly is not willing to deal with. That could lead to incoming freshman walk-on Harrison Leonard getting a chance at Doerer’s expense.
DOWN THE ROAD
If Doerer can steady his kickoff troubles, then he should be the go-to kicker in all regards for the next two seasons. He probably will not challenge any of Yoon’s records, but is less a negative reflection on Doerer and more an indication of not necessarily recognizing what was on hand until it is gone.
NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 90: Hunter Spears, defensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver
No. 85: George Takacs, tight end
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 80: Micah Jones, receiver
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right guard, three-year starter
No. 77: Quinn Carroll, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive guard
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive lineman
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, left tackle, two-year starter
No. 73: Andrew Kristofic, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle, three-year starter
No. 71: John Olmstead, offensive lineman, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 69: Aaron Banks, left guard
No. 60: Cole Mabry, offensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, veteran backup offensive lineman
No. 57: Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle
No. 56: John Dirksen, offensive lineman
No. 56: Howard Cross, incoming freshman defensive lineman, consensus four-star
No. 55: Jarrett Patterson, starting center
No. 55: Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle returning from injury
No. 54: Jacob Lacey, consensus four-star defensive tackle, early enrollee
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, senior defensive end
No. 52: Zeke Correll, consensus four-star center, early enrollee
No. 52: Bo Bauer, linebacker, sophomore
No. 50: J.D. Bertrand, consensus four-star linebacker
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, junior defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, senior inside linebacker
No. 44: Jamir Jones, senior defensive end
No. 42: Julian Okwara, senior defensive end
No. 41: Kurt Hinish, junior defensive tackle
No. 40: Drew White, junior inside linebacker