Nation's top kicker commits to Notre Dame

South Bend Tribune

On the 247Sports overall individual player rankings, you have to scroll all the way down to No. 1,457 to find Justin Yoon’s name.

But Yoon is listed as the No. 1 kicker, which is likely why Notre Dame offered a scholarship earlier this month.

On Tuesday, Yoon accepted that scholarship offer and became the 14th player to commit to the Irish recruiting class of 2015.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Yoon, who plays at Milton Academy in Milton, Mass., also had offers from Stanford, Texas A&M, Northwestern and Boston College.

“He established himself last summer as a top national recruit and followed it up again this winter with a lot of strong performances,” said kicking specialist Jamie Kohl of Kohl’s Kicking Camps. “By the time early spring hit he was one of the few guys that had major BCS offers on a national level.”

Kohl, whose camps have produced 70 players who have entered NFL training camps over the last three years, recently worked with Yoon in California. It was there that he noticed a couple of hang times of 4.4 seconds on kickoffs, which he notes is excellent for a high school player. He also added that under ideal conditions, Yoon can consistently hit 60-yard field goals.

In Yoon Notre Dame will get a guy who values precision and fundamentals.

“Which is great,” Kohl said, “but the thing that makes him really special is he has a lot of leg talent and a lot of ability to be able to focus.”

Yoon’s offer came while he was making an unofficial visit to Notre Dame earlier this month. He made another visit to the school Sunday before traveling Monday to Northwestern.

Yoon’s commitment is important in that Notre Dame loses standout Kyle Brindza following the 2014 season. Brindza has handled kickoff since he was a freshman, place-kicking duties since his sophomore year and added punting duties as a junior. Translation: His departure will leave voids on the Irish special teams.

Yoon, however, appears ticketed strictly for kicking duties in South Bend.

“He’s working on his punting,” Kohl said. “I don’t think he’s viewed as a punter. But could he become one? Yeah, he could, but he’s viewed as a kicker. They’re bringing him in there to kick. If he does punt it would probably be in a backup capacity.”

“Notre Dame couldn’t have added a better player at this position of need. At this position you don’t want to have to worry about it,” 247Sports director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong said. “You need a guy that can come in and replace Brindza. Football games are won and lost in the kicking game.”

It was in kicking competitions where Yoon won over Kohl. At Kohl’s camps, kickers face off against each other, with each kick gaining more emphasis.

“And then you eventually get to the point where the difficulty of the kick starts to reach these kids’ limits and they need to hit a clean ball in order to stay alive against their peers,” Kohl said.

“They understand what’s on the line. They know if you make this kick it propels you into another stratosphere. If you miss it you’re just another guy in the mix.”

Yoon excelled.

“It’s not just one competition,” Kohl said. “It’s repeated competitions that Justin has done this.” ¦ 574-235-6428 ¦ Twitter: @BobWienekeNDI

Massachusetts kicker Justin Yoon commited to Notre Dame on Tuesday, June 24. (Photo provided)