Irish turn to transfer portal with addition of 6th-year kicker Blake Grupe from Arkansas State

Justin Frommer
ND Insider
Dec 29, 2018; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arkansas State Red Wolves kicker Blake Grupe (25) kicks a field goal in the first half against the Nevada Wolf Pack in the 2018 Arizona Bowl at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

SOUTH BEND — Marcus Freeman and Notre Dame went back to the transfer portal, this time for some special teams help. 

The Irish received a commitment from sixth-year kicker, Blake Grupe, who spent the past five years at Arkansas State. Grupe will be one of the new faces in a completely revamped Notre Dame special teams room, replacing graduated kicker Jonathan Doerer, who ended his Irish career with the second-most points in program history. 

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Notre Dame will also be replacing punter, Jay Bramblett, who entered the transfer portal after the Irish's 37-35 loss to No. 9 Oklahoma State in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl Jan. 1. Notre Dame's specialists will also be led by a new coach in Brian Mason, who is reportedly coming to South Bend after holding the special teams coordinator position at Cincinnati since 2018. 

In five seasons with the Red Wolves, Grupe recorded 354 points, the most in program history. During his career, Grupe was 64 of 86 on field goal attempts, including 20 of 25 during the 2021 season. His most successful year was 2019, when he went 19 of 22 (86.4%) and was a Lou Groza Award finalist, given to the nation's best placekicker. Grupe has also missed seven extra points in his career, holding a 162 of 169 clip. 

Entering this past season Grupe was an Athlon Sports Preseason Fourth Team All-Sun Belt Conference.

Notre Dame’s Jonathan Doerer (39) kicks an extra point as Jay Bramblett (19) holds during the Notre Dame vs. Georgia Tech NCAA football game Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

Grupe will likely slide right into Doerer's vacant spot, with the rest of Notre Dame's placekickers being very inexperienced. Soon-to-be senior, Harrison Leonard has played in three games in three years and has only attempted five career extra points and no field goals. 

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Josh Bryan, who was a freshman in 2021, attempted one extra point, in the Irish's win over Georgia Tech, during his only college season. 

Whoever is tabbed as the new starting kicker will be thrown into the fire right off the bat with the Irish, who finished this season ranked. No. 8 in the final AP Top-25 poll, opening next season on Sept. 3 at Ohio State.