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RECRUITING: Irish ink kicker in wake of Pittsburgh victory

Mike Gilloon | Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Notre Dame picked up another recruit Sunday when kicker Ryan Burkhart verbally committed to the Irish.

Burkhart, from Northwood (Ind.) High School, is the 13th verbal commitment of 2005 for Irish coach Charlie Weis and his staff.

Recruits are not allowed to sign an official letter of intent until Feb. 1.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior made a good impression on Notre Dame coaches when he participated in their football camp this summer, according to Mike Frank of Irisheyes.com.

“He’s got a big leg, and I think [the Irish coaches] realize how important that is,” Frank said. “The staff has the confidence in having seen him kick in person before, not just on tape. He’s got the type of leg that can kick the ball through the end zone on a consistent basis.”

According to Frank, Notre Dame had already offered a scholarship to kicker Kai Forbath of Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif. But Forbath, who has offers from the likes of USC, LSU, UCLA and Cal, had not made up his mind on whether he wanted to commit to the Irish. So Weis went ahead and extended an offer to Burkhart, who has already booted four field goals on five attempts this season – including a 53-yarder.

“I think the coaches realized that Burkhart is just as good as [Forbath],” Frank said.

D.J. Fitzpatrick is handling the kicking and punting duties for the Irish this season. However, this is his last year of eligibility, and both jobs will be up for grabs next season.

Frank believes Burkhart has a very good chance to assume the starting place-kicking job next season. But he thinks Notre Dame still intends to add a punter to this year’s recruiting class.

“I think they’ll look for a punter as well to compete with [Irish junior punter] Geoff Price,” Frank said.