Notre Dame punter Jay Bramblett, who graduated from Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa, has one thought about Alabama.
They had their chance to recruit him. They weren’t interested.
“When Notre Dame wants me to come play football for me more than Alabama does, I'll take that every day,” Bramblett said on why he ended up playing for the Fighting Irish.
Bramblett, a junior, was booming punts last Thursday in the open practice. It was all noticeably there.
Hang time. Distance. Location.
Bramblett has the potential to be a lockdown punter. The kind of punter who can flip field position for the Irish or pooch one inside the red zone when needed.
Bramblett, who has started since he was a freshman, averaged 42.8 yards per punt last year. He has punted 106 times in his Notre Dame career for an average of 40.8 yards. The Irish ranked 18th in net punting last season, and Bramblett was a big part of that success.
Bramblett was ranked as the No. 1 punter in the class of 2018 according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
It’s hard for even the best kickers to get multiple scholarship offers. College coaches don’t want to “waste” an offer on a kicker or punter.
It’s almost always a timing issue. Alabama didn’t offer Bramblett. His only two offers were from Notre Dame and Missouri, according to 247Sports.
In 2018, the Crimson Tide had two punters on the roster.
Notre Dame special teams coordinator Brian Polian said that Bramblett has had a good camp. He noted that Bramblett’s strength has improved because he was able to spend more time in the weight room this offseason. In 2020, the pandemic limited strength and conditioning workouts.
Polian said he wants to keep the workload contained for Bramblett. He feels like he's on a good trajectory.
“When he's on, he is really good. He has had a really good camp. He has been really consistent,” Polian said. “I think Jay looks great. There's pop in that leg. Now it's our job and my job to manage it and make sure that we're not wearing him out here in camp and almost keeping him on a pitch count so we can keep him fresh for the start of the season.”
Bramblett said he’s “feeling really confident.”
He has worked hard on his mechanics. That includes sharpening up his drops and tightening up his footwork.
His goal is to be good all the time.
“It doesn’t matter if you can kick a 50-yard punt with great hang time unless you can do it every time,” he said. “So, being intentional and doing what I need to do is a big deal.”
Bramblett said he isn’t concerned about the length of his punts. It's about limiting returns.
“No returns is what I want to see,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you have a 40 or 42 yard punt. If you hold the return team to zero yards, I don’t think anyone is going to complain. “
Bramblett said he can’t wait for game day.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’m really excited about this year.”
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