It was an opportunity Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial punter Andrew Antognoli could not pass up.
On Wednesday, the one-time Harvard commit was offered a preferred walk-on position at Notre Dame and accepted on the spot.
“I couldn’t help but accept that,” Antognoli said. “I was ecstatic. I’m just so excited about this opportunity.”
Notre Dame became involved with the Semper Fidelis All-American after his coach sent his film to Irish wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock.
“He finally came out in December and that’s when the interest really started,” the 6-2, 190-pound prospect said. “After I played in the All-American game, I started talking to [Notre Dame tight ends] coach [Scott] Booker, and he came out to Fresno to see me. He was really excited about me and told me it was between me and some other guys with who they were going to pick. He called me on Wednesday and told me that they chose me as the guy to come in and compete for the position and to join their family.”
Despite their short relationship, Booker has made an impression on the talented punter.
“When I first met him I could tell that there was this professional feel to him that made him stand out from other coaches,” Antognoli said. “I’m excited to learn from him as a coach and to grow and prosper under him. He seems very knowledgeable and knows what he’s doing.”
The future appears bright for the Golden State recruit. Four-year starter Ben Turk is out of eligibility and the depth at punter could be labeled as thin if not non-existent.
“Coach Booker told me that I have a legitimate chance to be the starter and that I can compete for the job next year during the fall,” he said. “I’m really excited to hear that. It’s great to have an opportunity like that at a place like Notre Dame. I think I can go there, be the best I can be and maximize my potential.”
While Antognoli has never been to South Bend, he has heard plenty about the campus and plans on taking a visit in the coming months.
“I plan to get out there when they start spring ball,” Antognoli said. “I’ve talked to several Notre Dame alumni and people who have kids there and I’ve never heard one bad thing about Notre Dame. I know that they have a great atmosphere and really good tradition. It’s just a one-of-a-kind place that I want to be at.”