Surprise Notre Dame football special teams addition raises eyebrows

How Notre Dame's unexpected special teams addition is causing a stir in South Bend and the college football world.
New Notre Dame punter James Rendell celebrating a score
New Notre Dame punter James Rendell celebrating a score / Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos/GettyImages

One of the things that makes Notre Dame football coach Marcus Freeman so popular among Irish fans these days, is that when he sees a hole on the roster, he plugs it quickly. So far, it also looks like he's plugged those holes with talent equal to or better than what created the hole in the first place. 

Of course, punter Bryce McFerson's entry into the transfer portal created a hole, and the jury is still out on whether his replacement can be as good. But at least there is a replacement. And he's already creating quite a bit of buzz.

On Wednesday evening, the Notre Dame football program secured the commitment of Australian punter James Rendell. It appears that the Irish staff identified Rendell and then put a him high on their priority list. Special teams coach Marty Biagi spent the last week recruiting him.

The  6-foot-6 punter stands out. Literally. He also stands out figuratively thanks to his lineage. He's the son of Australian Football League star Matt Rendell. That's one of the reasons Notre Dame was confident the younger Rendell was worth a scholarship. As he told 247Sports, football has been part of his whole life.

Unexpected special teams addition: Notre Dame's latest game changer

"The good thing is we kick the ball a lot," Rendell told 247 "So that's a skill that's transferable to punting. And sort of for the past four or five years, a punting career is something I've sort of set my eyes on."

Rendell said that even before Biagi came calling, Rendell had heard about Notre Dame and what it offers. In fact, it turns out the Irish are one of those schools that are quite popular across the pond. 

"It's obviously a massive institutio," Rendell added. "I see people walking around Australia with Notre Dame apparel on. That's how far the brand reaches. I couldn't be happier. Obviously, it's got such a rich history. It's the best college football program in the country."

The Aussie will obviously be a freshman as far as eligibility goes, having never attended an American university before. There will definitely be a period of adjustment as he gets to know the states, South Bend and Notre Dame. 

It might be a bit unrealistic to believe James Rendell can be the starting punter for the Fighting Irish this fall. That duty might still fall to Eric Goins, or Marcus Freeman and company might still look to pull a player out of the portal. 

What is clear is that the James Rendell story with Notre Dame football is just getting started. And it will be an interesting one to watch, heading towards the fall.