Justin Yoon Looks Like He Could be Ready Soon

Team Highlight (White) kicker Justin Yoon (19) during the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo: Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)
Team Highlight (White) kicker Justin Yoon (19) during the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo: Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

Kickers usually don’t get much of the spotlight in All-American games.  Everyone wants to see the quarterbacks and skill position players and the pass rushers, but the kickers are usually an after thoughts.  Notre Dame commitment Justin Yoon though was one of the standout players in last night’s Under Armour All-American Bowl with a record setting performance.

Yoon, rated by some as the best high school kicker in the country, set Under Armour All-American Bowl records for most field goals made – three – and longest field goal made – 47 yards – in the seven year history of the game.  Yoon’s other kicks were true from 31 and 32 yards and he was a perfect four for four on extra points.  Former Florida State standout kicker Dustin Hoskins previously held the UA Bowl record with a 46 yarder.

What makes Yoon’s performance even more impressive is the fact that special teams problems are common place in All American games and I say that as I sit here watching the Army All-American Bowl where the west squad just failed to successfully execute on an extra point attempt.

For Notre Dame, the timing of landing a kicker like Yoon could not have come at a better time.  Yoon will step into a situation at Notre Dame this summer where he’ll have the chance to immediately compete for the starting place kicking job with sophomore Tyler Newsome following the graduation of Kyle Brindza.  Brindza, the hero from Notre Dame’s Music City Bowl win over LSU, exhausted his eligibility this year following a record setting career despite some rough patches during the 2014 regular season.

With Brindza gone, all three of Notre Dame’s kicking jobs are up for grabs – place kicking, punting, and kickoffs.  Brindza handled all three of them this year and last which some feel could have contributed to his struggles this year. That and Notre Dame’s inability to execute a snap and hold at times.  Still, it is rare for one player to handle all three duties and it seems likely that Brian Kelly and his staff will divide up those duties moving forward if they are able to.

Heading into fall camp, Yoon might actually be the favorite to win the place kicking duties while Newsome likely figures to be the favorite for the punting duties.   Newsome was a Semper Fi All-American last year and was impressive punting the ball in his All-American performance a year ago booming a 52 yarder and averaging voer 47 yards a punt.  He was unable to beat out Brindza for the punting duties in fall camp but given Brindza’s solid punting last year and this, that shouldn’t be any indication that he doesn’t have the talent to handle the job moving forward.

Newsome was impressive last year on kick-offs in the Semper Fi Bowl as well which could give him a leg up in that department at least initially.  Yoon’s one knock yesterday was that his kick-offs didn’t make it too deep, but he is also still recovering a little from the back injury that hampered him during his senior season.

If Yoon can kick 47 yard field goals for the Irish next fall at not quite full strength like he was yesterday, Notre Dame might have a kicking game that is as reliable as it was in 2012 and 2013 when Kyle Brindza connected on 75% of his field goals before seeing that success rate plummet to 55% this year.  If yesterday is any indication of Yoon’s potential, that number should jump back up next fall if Yoon wins the place kicking job.  That is assuming, of course, that the Irish are able to get those snaps down without issue.

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  1. My son goes to boarding school with Justin Yoon, and they live in the same dorm. Justin is a first class young man of outstanding intelligence and character. In the off season, Justin would get the younger football players together to long-snap, punt and kick in the athletic center where he would act as a patient teacher and mentor. ND is very, very lucky to get this young man!

  2. I’ve thought all season long FSU had the best kicker in CFB, you look at Yoon’s stats and Aguayo and they are quite similar. What a great recruit for ND

  3. One of Kyle Brindza’s most underrecognized achievements is that he handled all three kicking jobs, kickoffs, placekicking and punting. that enabled
    the now forgotten Tyler Newsome to redshirt so he could get stronger and be ready to star as a punter in 2015. this was all well documented by Frank. For me,I will be ever grateful for Brindza’s heroic efforts in helping the Irish build special teams excellence for the future.

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