Notre Dame adds commitment from punter Jay Bramblett

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Jay Bramblett only needed a few hours to consider his scholarship offer from Notre Dame.

After special teams coordinator Brian Polian extended the offer Tuesday morning, the punter at Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Hillcrest expressed his interest in the form of a verbal commitment.

Bramblett, ranked as the No. 1 punter in the 2019 class by Chris Sailer Kicking, announced his pledge to the Irish Wednesday on Twitter.

"I knew what I wanted to do, and I felt like it was the right place for me," Bramblett said Wednesday afternoon. "I went ahead and pulled the trigger."

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Bramblett learned about his fit at Notre Dame on two campus visits. He attended Notre Dame's win over Wake Forest in November and returned this past weekend for an unofficial visit.

"Notre Dame is obviously a great athletic school. Everybody knows that," Bramblett said. "A big thing for me was Notre Dame is a great academic school, and it's going to give me a great opportunity to succeed after football."

Bramblett's future on the football field has become promising quickly. The son of a football coach, Bramblett decided to give punting a try before his sophomore season. Instead of having the team's starting safety punt, Bramblett took over the role and started to shine.

He trained with Mike McCabe of One On One Kicking and started picking up accolades at camps run by national kicking coaches.

"He's helping me a lot," Bramblett said of McCabe. "It's incredible how much better I've gotten. I honestly never knew I'd be able to go this far with it. I'm really excited for the opportunity."

Bramblett was named Overall Camp Champion at the last two Chris Sailer Kicking camps in Georgia and was named Punter Consistency Champion in Las Vegas in January. On May 20, Bramblett won the punting competition at the Southern Spring Showcase for Kohl's Kicking after averaging 43.63 yards per punt with an average hang time of 4.68 seconds.

Chris Sailer, a former UCLA punter and kicker who started coaching specialists 15 years ago, said he has been impressed by Bramblett from the start.

"What jumped out about Jay is his overall athleticism at first," Sailer said. "He has a great demeanor about him and physical stature to him. That's what you look for in a college punter. He was extremely naturally gifted when we met him. The talent was obvious."

Bramblett's athletic skills aren't limited to punting. He's in line to be the starting quarterback at Hillcrest this fall and is a talented baseball player. On May 5, Bramblett hit a walk-off home run to advance Hillcrest to the Class 6A state semifinals, where his team eventually lost. He played pitcher, catcher, third base and center field as a junior.

After his baseball season ended, Bramblett scheduled his visit to Notre Dame. Only Missouri had offered him before the Irish, but he didn't feel the need to try to earn more offers.

"Notre Dame was really my first choice to visit," Bramblett said. "I'm glad to have my decision made and know what my plan is. It could have been a long summer, but I'm glad I have my plan and I know where I want to be."

That plan was facilitated by Polian, who identified Bramblett as Notre Dame's top choice to replace graduate student Tyler Newsome when he exhausts his eligibility following the 2018 season. The Irish haven't used a scholarship on a punter since signing Newsome in the 2014 class. Sophomore kicker Jonathan Doerer also punted in high school, but he will be counted on to replace senior kicker Justin Yoon in 2019.

The addition of Bramblett gives Notre Dame 11 commitments in the 2019 class. Both Rivals and 247Sports rank the group as the No. 6 class in the country.

"He's a first-class guy," Bramblett said of Polian. "He made Notre Dame really feel like home. It felt like he'd be a coach that would really take care of you and care about you and wouldn't just leave you out there to rot if you got in trouble or had any issues."

As a junior, Bramblett punted 56 times with an average of 39 yards. Many of those punts ended up deep in the opponents' territory with 25 of them pinning the opposing teams inside their own 20-yard line.

247Sports slates Bramblett as a three-star recruit and the No. 2 punter in the 2019 class. Kohl's Kicking pegs Bramblett as the No. 5 punter. But no one thinks more highly of Bramblett than Sailer.

"He has all the boxes checked. That's what makes him unique," Sailer said. "It's very difficult when you scout high school punters to find someone like that.

"There are a lot of guys that have the size and the strength, but they're just not consistent or they're still very raw. Then you have a lot of guys that are maybe 5-9 or 5-10 that have strong legs that are more built like a kicker that you know are going to have a cap when it comes to being able to develop into a top college punter and/or NFL punter. Jay's one of those guys that sits right in the middle of there and checks all the boxes."

Committed... Excited about this great opportunity! #fightclub19#4for40#oneononetrained@_Mike_McCabepic.twitter.com/4neIjuXTQn

— Jay Bramblett (@jbram_15) May 30, 2018

Chris Sailer Kicking #1 Punter in the nation @jbram_15 has committed to @NDFootball on full scholarship. Well deserved. #TeamSailer#TOP12pic.twitter.com/R2zXLUj2gd

— Chris Sailer Kicking (@Chris_Sailer) May 30, 2018

✅Committed#NotreDame picks up a commitment from Jay Bramblett. After posting the highest score for a punter on the National #KohlsShowcase Tour just last week, expect his ranking to ⬆️ when spring rankings are released June 1st.

➡️EVAL: https://t.co/ZKczuTrEdc#WeAreNDpic.twitter.com/vvbCMol7B5

— Kohl's Kicking Camps (@KohlsKicking) May 30, 2018

#WeAreND

— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) May 30, 2018

Punter Jay Bramblett, pictured with Notre Dame special teams coordinator Brian Polian, gave his verbal commitment to the Irish following a visit this past weekend. Bramblett is ranked as the No. 1 punter in the 2019 class by Chris Sailer Kicking.