Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2022

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

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2022 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE BY TYLER HORKA Bryce McFerson is no stranger to the sting of losing a state championship. It's happened twice — in two totally differ- ent environments. The first, unsurprisingly, a football field. McFerson was a freshman at In- dian Trail (N.C.) Metrolina Christian Academy when his team made it to the state final. His Warriors trailed by three points with one minute left. As a kicker, there was only one thought going through his mind. "Man, I'm going to have to kick a field goal." He was wrong. The Warriors' of- fense didn't get into field goal range to give McFerson the chance to be a hero by sending the game to overtime. It brought on a feeling he'll remember for the rest of his life. "Seeing all the seniors and realizing they wouldn't be able to play again, it reminded me that sports don't last for- ever," McFerson said. McFerson doesn't have to face that reality with football any time soon. He signed a scholarship offer to be a punter at Notre Dame. He's set for the next few years. But he's going to face it with an- other sport he has practiced since mid- dle school: wrestling. Enter the other environment McFer- son has felt the pain of being a runner- up: a wrestling mat. McFerson lost the state champion- ship match just a few months after his football team narrowly lost the football state title game. One defeat hurt decid- edly more than the other. "Wrestling was way worse," McFer- son said. "With football, I'm a part of a team. I'm contributing, and I did my job pretty well. I didn't have a bad game. I didn't miss a field goal. "In wrestling, it's all on you. You go out there. Another guy goes out there. One guy comes out as the winner. One guy comes out as a loser. That's just the way it is." McFerson can say he knows what it's like to be on both ends. He won the state championship in wrestling as a junior as a 170-pounder after not being able to compete as a sophomore because of an injury. He capped off a redemption story two years in the making in triumphant fashion. When McFerson steps onto Notre Dame's campus this summer, his wres- tling career will be behind him. His sole focus will be on being a Fighting Irish punter. But the competitive lessons he learned as a wrestler will always stick with him. "I learned a lot of self-talk tactics when preparing for any competition," McFerson said. "If I'm the underdog, I tell myself I have no pressure since I am supposed to fail. If I am favored to win, I tell myself I've done this before and that I can do it again. Success or failure is determined by your thoughts." ✦ Accomplished Dual-Sport Athlete Bryce McFerson Is Prepared For The Rigors Of Notre Dame McFerson has a competitive spirit he developed during his days as a soccer player, wrestler and kicker at Indian Trail (N.C.) Metrolina Christian Academy. PHOTO COURTESY ON3.COM BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM MARCH 2022 57 BRYCE MCFERSON PUNTER 6-1 · 183 METROLINA CHRISTIAN ACADEMY INDIAN TRAIL, N.C. RANKINGS STARS NAT. POS. STATE consensus ✪ ✪ ✪ 1999 6 53 ✪ ✪ ✪ — — — ✪ ✪ ✪ — 5 36 ✪ ✪ — — — ✪ ✪ — 5 49 STATISTICS • Averaged 46 yards per punt with a long of 62 and pinned the opponents inside their 20 six times on 24 total punts as a senior. • Kicked off 67 times and recorded 63 touch- backs, and was 43 of 43 on extra points and 6 of 12 on field goals with a long of 47. NOTABLE • Born on Nov. 2, 2003. • 2022 All-American Bowl participant. • No. 1 punter in America per Chris Sailer Kicking. • 2021 North Carolina Spring Camp Punt Cham- pion. • 2020 NC Fall Punt Factory Camp Head-to-Head Competition Champion. • Also wrestles for his high school, competing at 182 pounds as a senior. • Won the 2021 state wrestling championship at 170 pounds in the independent schools clas- sification. RECRUITMENT • Committed to Notre Dame on Nov. 21, 2021. • Will enroll at Notre Dame this summer. • Was committed to Wake Forest but flipped his commitment to the Irish. • Recruited by former special teams coordinator Brian Polian. • Officially visited in November for the Georgia Tech game. 2022 PROJECTION • Notre Dame brought in a transfer walk-on punter in the offseason, so McFerson will com- pete for the starting job. He can also handle kickoff duties if needed. THEY SAID IT Professional specialist coach Chris Sailer: "Bryce is a phenomenal high school punting and kicking prospect. He is a great-looking athlete with a pow- erful leg. His punting is a major strength. He hits a FBS-level ball, and his consistency 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. "He's a phenomenal directional punter and a fantastic kicker. He does a great job on field goals, and Bryce hits a clean ball and has 55-yard range off the ground. His kickoffs are strong and college ready. "Bryce is a fine young man with a great attitude and work ethic. One of the hardest workers out there. He has all the tools to dominate the next level and is a big-time combo prospect."

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