Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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34 DECEMBER 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED Indian Trail (N.C.) Metrolina Chris- tian Academy punter Bryce McFerson was happily committed to Wake For- est. McFerson pledged to the Demon Deacons back in September 2020, and Dave Clawson's program offered him the opportunity to stay in state and get a degree from a prestigious university. But then Notre Dame came along. In October, Notre Dame special teams coordinator Brian Polian started ex- pressing interest in McFerson, and a few weeks later when the 6-1, 181-pounder received his scholarship offer from the Fighting Irish it was all over. "I had pretty much already decided that I was going to switch my commit- ment," McFerson said. Notre Dame's current scholarship punter is Jay Bramblett, and although he hasn't publicly announced his inten- tions to transfer as of Nov. 23, it seems that this season is his last in a Fighting Irish uniform. He will graduate from Notre Dame after three seasons and was honored during Senior Day Nov. 19 against Georgia Tech. If Bramblett does indeed transfer, it opens the door for McFerson to start as a true freshman. He could potentially handle other special teams duties. "I'm going to compete for the kickoff job as well," he said. Polian must have had a pretty good idea before McFerson's official visit Nov. 18-20 that he'd land the All-Amer- ican punter, and it solidified during McFerson's one-on-one conversation with Irish head coach Brian Kelly. "It was amazing. He's such a good guy," McFerson said. "It was crazy that the head coach of such a huge, power- house program be such a personable guy and that humble. "I was telling him that I had such an amazing time on my visit and loved it. He asked if I was going to commit, and I said, 'I am.'" The longtime Irish assistant coach was instrumental in McFerson's re- cruitment. "He sold me on it," McFerson said of Polian. "He was very important in my decision. I think he's a great guy and is very focused. He has a lot of determina- tion to be excellent at what he does. "It's cool to have a guy like that on the sidelines who is working with you. He also knows a lot about the technique of punt- ing and kicking, which is uncommon." Other highlights of McFerson's all- expenses paid visit in November in- cluded all the coaches and staff mem- bers he and his family spoke with, dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House and a meeting with Dr. Amber Selk- ing, Notre Dame's mental performance coach. "She showed me how important the mental side of things is," McFerson ex- plained. "That sold me a lot, too. Punt- ing is different than other positions be- cause at practice you'll have 60 reps, but in the game you'll have five or less. "Learning how to change the practice to game mindset will be an important thing for me." McFerson took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame's campus during the week- end of the Irish's bye week in October. He fell in love with the university at that point. "It's Notre Dame," he said. "It has the most storied program in all of college football. Wake Forest is a special place with its intimacy, and the coaching staff is great. There are big football schools that don't have that type of culture. "But Notre Dame has both. It has the same intimacy and culture, and it has high-level football." McFerson was one of the few people in attendance for Notre Dame's 55-0 triumph over Georgia Tech who was cheering for the Irish and wanting to see their punt unit on the field. "It was amazing," McFerson said of the atmosphere inside Notre Dame Sta- dium. "It was a blowout, and people usually don't stay to watch those after the first half, but the students stayed until the end of the game. The stadium was still packed when the game was over." During his senior season in which he helped lead Metrolina Christian Acad- emy to a 10-2 season, he averaged 46.0 yards per punt with a long of 62 and pinned the opponent inside their 20 six times on 24 total punts. As a kicker, McFerson kicked off 67 times and recorded 63 touchbacks. He was perfect on extra points (43 of 43) and 6 of 12 on field goals with a long of 47 yards. McFerson, whom Chis Sailer Kicking ranks as the top prep punter in the senior class, is Notre Dame's 23rd commitment of the 2022 recruiting class. Notre Dame has now taken a scholarship special- ist in the past four classes (2019 punter Jay Bramblett, 2020 long snapper Alex Peitsch, 2021 kicker Joshua Bryan and 2022 punter McFerson). He plans to major in business at Notre Dame. ✦ COMMITMENT PROFILE BRYCE MCFERSON The Nation's Top Punter Flips From Wake Forest Indian Trail (N.C.) Metrolina Christian Academy standout Bryce McFerson switched his pledge from the Demon Deacons to the Fighting Irish on Nov. 21. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER FILM ANALYSIS "Bryce is a phenomenal high school punting and kicking prospect. He is a great-looking ath- lete with a powerful leg. His punting is a major strength. He hits a FBS-level ball, and his consis- tency is impressive. "His feet and hands are quick and efficient. Bryce is averaging 45-plus yards, with 4.7-plus hang time. He also shows he can hit 50-plus, with 5.0-plus hang time." — Professional kicker/punter coach Chris Sailer

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