Notre Dame kicker commit Justin Yoon eyeing comeback from back injury

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Justin Yoon’s position requires him to stay calm in pressure-packed moments.

But delivering a speech to a crowded gym brought on a whole different wave of nerves for the senior kicker committed to Notre Dame. The presentation of Yoon’s Under Armour All-America jersey Monday gave Yoon the opportunity to speak.

“At first it was hard to talk because I've never experienced that many people watching me and supporting me,” Yoon said. “It felt really good that I had everyone supporting me, but it was a nerve-wracking experience. It was harder than kicking field goals in a game.”

Unfortunately for Yoon, field goals will have to wait. In his season opener for Milton (Mass.) Academy, Yoon suffered a back injury during the scramble for an errant punt snap. Yoon later learned he chipped three vertebrae. He has been sidelined indefinitely since the Sept. 20 game.

“At first it was really painful,” Yoon said. “I've never experienced that much pain before.”

Likely sidelined for the six remaining games of his senior season, Yoon will learn more about his recovery during a doctor’s appointment this weekend. After 10 days of treatment, Yoon holds out hope that he can play before the season ends.

"At the moment, it's going really well,” Yoon said. “Since last week I couldn't walk and now I'm walking normally. You wouldn't notice that I have an injury. It's a good sign for a quick recovery.”

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Yoon has been able to attend practices and help the new specialists tasked with replacing him on kickoffs, field goals and punts. Because of his injury, Yoon may not be able to kick in a game until January’s Under Armour All-America Game.

It’s an honor he earned at the Kohl's Kicking National Scholarship Camp in July. The opportunity became a bit more real on Monday.

"It was definitely awesome,” Yoon said. “Not everyone can say they have an Under Armour jersey and they're about to play in the game. That's just a great honor. I feel really blessed to be able to get this experience. It's awesome and phenomenal.”

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Notre Dame kicker commit Justin Yoon will play in January's Under Armour All-America Game. (Photo courtesy of INTERSPORT)