Notre Dame picks up record-breaking specialist from transfer portal

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Notre Dame picks up record-breaking specialist from transfer portal

Article written by:Ashton PollardAshton Pollard

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As veteran kicker Jonathan Doerer departs, Notre Dame will bring in another seasoned kicker in his place. 

On Thursday, former Arkansas State kicker Blake Grupe announced he will be transferring to Notre Dame. The 2022 season will be Grupe’s sixth year of college football as he takes advantage of the COVID-19 blanket waiver.

“The history of the program and winning, Coach (Marcus) Freeman, the chance of playing in the college football playoff, and the list goes on and on about why I want to be at Notre Dame,” Grupe said, per BlueandGold.com.

The decision comes after Grupe entered the transfer portal on Sunday.

In 2021, the Missouri native hit 20 field goals, which was tied for first in the Sun Belt and also broke the Arkansas State records for most made field goals and points in a single season. He attempted 25 field goals last season, meaning he hit 80% of his kicks, and he was 31-for-32 on extra points. His career long is 50 yards.

The 5-foot-8, 148-pound kicker has been the Sun Belt kicker of the week on several occasions, and he was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award in 2019, the annual honor given to the nation’s best placekicker.

Grupe will replace the aforementioned Jonathan Doerer who has exhausted his collegiate eligibility. Doerer was the No. 1 placekicker for Notre Dame for three years, and reached 100 points in a season twice. He finished his career with 49 field goals, which ranks fourth in program history.

The only kicker Notre Dame was set to have on scholarship for 2022 is current true freshman Josh Bryan, who the Irish flipped from Colorado in the class of 2021. Bryan made the only extra point he attempted in 2021, which came in a blowout win over Georgia Tech.

Irish special teams full of new faces for 2022

Grupe is a great addition to the specialists’ room as a whole for next season, as the group is relatively young. Punter Jay Bramblett entered the transfer portal, leaving incoming true freshman Bryce McPherson as the scholarship punter set to be on the roster. 

Notre Dame will actually have two long snappers on scholarship next season: Alex Peitsch and Michael Vinson. The latter just earned the opportunity for the upcoming year.

The group will work with incoming special teams coach Brian Mason. Mason joins the Irish staff after four years in the same role at Cincinnati.

Mason’s unit contributed substantially to Cincinnati’s historic season, one in which they went 13-1 and earned the Group of Five’s first berth in the College Football Playoff. The Bearcats blocked six kicks this year, which is currently tied for first in the nation with just one game left to play in college football. They averaged 10.7 yards per punt return (29th nationally) and 23.82 yards per kickoff return (28th nationally).

In addition to his special teams role, Mason served at the Bearcats director of recruiting for a year in 2017. The 35-year-old from Indiana was also a graduate assistant at three FBS schools: Ohio State, Purdue and Kent State.