Saturday, December 03, 2005

Walk-On, Kick-Off | by Pat

You may remember this paragraph, written here in September, about ND's newest recruit Ryan Burkhart.

This summer, Burkhart participated in the Ray Guy/ kicking academy, which held 30 camps across the country. Not only did Burkhart place as the top kicker at the Indianapolis camp (ahead of the melodiously-named Tamba Samba), he finished as the top kicker nationally when all of the camp performances were lumped together. Keeping with the kickoff theme, Burkhart broke the kicking academy record for longest kickoff when he booted a 75-yarder during the camp. And while Notre Dame coaches told him he was coming in as a kicker only, it doesn't hurt that Burkhart also rated out as the top punter nationally at the same camp.
The funny thing is, Ryan might not be the only ND kicker mentioned in that paragraph. The runner-up to Burkhart in the Indianapolis kicking camp, Tamba Samba from Ben Davis High School, has accepted a scholarship offer to play soccer for Notre Dame. The connection to the football program comes from quotes from Samba that he might try to walk on to the football team once up in South Bend.
"I love to play football," he said. "After we lost to Decatur Central (in the sectional on Friday night), I really realized I'm going to miss it. So I'm considering walking on at Notre Dame at some point and kicking. I think I have a decent leg. I don't want to throw that talent away. So I should leave that door open.
It sounds like it's far from a sure thing that he will be donning a gold helmet, but it's always nice to have options. With the graduation of D.J. Fitzpatrick, the job for kicker is going to be wide open. Both the offense and defense will be full of experience and ready to build off of this year's success, but having a dependable kicker can mean the difference between a good season and a great one. So when it comes to tryouts for that spot, the more the merrier in my mind. If anything, Tamba Samba will make a great addition to the Notre Dame All-Moniker Team.