Notre Dame added a second preferred walk-on specialist to its roster Wednesday when Erie (Penn.) Cathedral Prep kicker John Chereson joined the Irish.
Irish kicker Kyle Brindza will get some help from walk-ons John Chereson and Andrew Antognoli.
With almost its full allotment of 85 scholarships spoken for, Notre Dame and head coach Brian Kelly were able to add some much-needed support in the kicking game by convincing Chereson and punter Andrew Antognoli to pay their own way at least to start their collegiate careers.
Chereson, a two-time first-team Pennsylvania All-State pick, led the state with 51 touchbacks during his senior season. He also set several school records at Cathedral Prep, including a career-long 52-yard field goal, making four field goals in one game and hitting 84 extra points in a single season.
“He set pretty much every kicking record we have,” said Cathedral Prep coach Mike Mischler, who led his team to a 15-0 record and a state title this year. “He’s a very accurate, strong-legged kicker.”
Mischler added that playing on a windy field near Lake Erie prepared Chereson well for kicking in bad weather situations. The senior was also the captain of Cathedral's soccer team last season and played in Pennsylvania's East-West All-Star game.
Notre Dame first saw Chereson when he attended a camp in South Bend last summer. He had scholarship offers from some smaller schools including nearby Youngstown State, according to Mischler, but playing for the Irish was a lifelong dream.
“He wanted to be able to attend Notre Dame. That’s always been his dream and being able to get a preferred walk-on position was something he was definitely interested in doing,” the coach said.
Chereson and Antognoli will both be able to compete for jobs immediately along with established junior kicker Kyle Brindza. Brindza has handled the kickoff duties for the Irish since his freshman year and took over the placekicking job as a sophomore in 2012.
Notre Dame also has the option to keep senior Nick Tausch on the roster for his fifth year of eligibility. Scholarships are tight at the moment, though, after signing 24 freshman Wednesday. Tausch started 2012 as the team’s field goal kicker, but lost the job to Brindza after a groin injury in the first week of the regular season.
“[Tausch] is right now an option, but Kyle Brindza obviously is a strong option for us, as well, doing both, playing both positions,” Kelly said Wednesday.
Tausch also lost his job to injury as a freshman after setting the school record for consecutive successful field goal attempts. The Irish had to pluck a walk-on from the intramural program after Tausch’s first injury because of a lack of depth. They found David Ruffer, who went on to break his predecessor’s successful field goal streak record.