In 2012, Ben Turk punted for an average of 40.77 yards. But, he will not be on the roster in 2013.
The question has always been whether or not Notre Dame should offer scholarships to specialists. On one hand, kickers and punters are critical to the game. They can make a tremendous difference in flipping the field on the opposing team. On the other hand, scholarships are valuable. Having another Defensive End might be smarter than having a player who only participates on a few plays per game.
It is not quite the same but it is similar to the argument of who is more valuable: everyday players or pitchers? A punter is closer to a middle reliever. It is clear the reliever is need but would you spend $25 million on one? Definitely not.
On Thursday, Notre Dame landed a commitment from Andrew Antognoli, a punter from Fresno, California. Antognoli is one of the best punters in the nation. Antognoli will be a “preferred walk-on”. He participated in the Semper Fi All-American Bowl.
Antognoli has been instructed by Chris Sailer who works alongside Chris Rubio who teaches Long Snapping. Rubio instructed current Notre Dame Long Snapper Chris Daly. Sailer has Antognoli ranked as the 12th best punter in the class of 2013. Sailer reviewed him on his website:
Andrew is a tremendous punting talent. A big, tall, strong athlete that will one day dominate the D1 level. Has a great D1 punting frame. Continues to improve at a rapid rate. Punts for great distance and hang time. Punts very well under pressure. Also a strong KO guy. A top 5 national combo prospect. Has a great attitude and work ethic. Big time D1 prospect. -Chris Sailer
Antognoli is a line in many preferred walk-ons in recent years at Notre Dame. In 2011, Notre Dame landed linebacker Joe Schmidt who has contributed frequently on Special Teams. Last year, the Irish landed Eamon McOsker as well. It is a great way of supplementing the roster with more talent that could possibly grow and contribute down the line. It’s Notre Dame’s version of oversigning.