Kyle Brindza has had a pretty eventful freshman season. He's been handling Notre Dame's kickoffs while hearing cries from Fighting Irish fans to handle punts. And you may have noticed his blinding footgear through three games.
Here, Brindza delves into all of those subjects, and explains just how difficult it is to balance kicking and punting.
I'm sure you've been getting drilled about this, but tell me the story of the shoes.
"Obviously as a bigger kicker, bigger than most of the other kickers, I have big feet, so it's kind of hard to find a size shoe for me. And there's only one specific shoe I like to kick with, that's Adidas. Coming into an Adidas school, I always kicked with Nike. I changed my style of shoe and I was like, 'Hey, can I get white and gold?' And they were like, 'No, they don't have those.' I was like, 'All right, the black ones then.' So they were like, 'All right, we'll order some.' They end up ordering some, I come to my locker one day, there was two boxes and they already left before I could even look at the box. The first box I opened, they were like purple, so I was like, 'All right, no, I'm not gonna wear those.' So I put them away. And then the next one, they were neon-yellow. I was like, 'I mean, there's no other choice, so I guess I'll wear these, because I'm not wearing no purple shoes.' "
What size are you?
"I'm 12.5, 13. You gotta special order stuff, but I guess they didn't have any in my size."
Brian Kelly said he never saw you hit the way you did on Saturday and that you had to remind him you were more than just a special teams player.
"In high school, during the season since I played soccer and football I wasn't able to play a position. I always wanted to play linebacker and tight end, but in the offseason I was able to mess around. So I was always in some tackling drills, my coach taught me some tackling form, because if it came down to me making the tackle, I need to know how to tackle instead of just diving out there and trying to get to the shoelace. So he taught me how to tackle. And Coach Kelly seemed, he looked at me for a second, then he brushed it off because then he realized, 'Oh, he's kind of a big guy. And he's not gonna go out there and just make a little whiff of a tackle.' But I did remind them I'm not just a kicker in high school. I was able to work out in the weight room and actually do some drills."
But did you actually play any other positions on the field in high school?
"No, not in games."
So was that extra gratifying for you to make that hit Saturday?
"I haven't had to even make a tackle on a kickoff ever since my sophomore or freshman year, and it was against him (Nick Hill). Same kid. We played his team in high school."
Did you talk to him after and remind him?
"Just a little, yeah."
Mike Elston said you weren't a punter in high school, and I think he meant it in the sense that you weren't recruited as one. But were you your team's regular punter?
"Yeah, I think it was my sophomore year, that's when I started picking up punting. My freshman and my sophomore year I was like, 'Hey, I'm just gonna go to college for kickoffs and field goals.' And then our quarterback, our starting quarterback was actually the punter, and my coach was like, 'Hey, he's leaving next year, so you need to learn how to punt.'
"So I started going to my kicking coach, I was like, 'Hey, can you teach me how to punt? I need to pick it up this year.' And I picked it up right on time before our starting quarterback got hurt my sophomore year. So I started punting, I wasn't the best punter. I just went out there and basically threw it out there and kicked it.
"It's a lot different from when I played goalie in soccer. I was able to bomb the ball because I knew that form, but punting form was a lot different.
"And then junior year I started picking up more, and that's when it really came along, and I was able to win some punting competitions along with the field goal competitions and was also an all-state punter my junior year. And senior year I started picking it up more. Punting is a unique thing where you can overstride too much or you can short-step it and you're gonna shank it. And coming in as a freshman, I was like, 'All right.' They told me I was gonna be a punter also, along with the field goal kicker and kickoffs, but they said, 'We're not gonna throw too much at you.' And I told them I don't want a lot on my plate.
"So basically what I've been working on most is kickoffs, and that's been what's got me on the field. Also when you do kickoffs you gotta work with field goal form. And so as a freshman I'm not trying to throw too much on my plate to mess up my form. And obviously a little bit of that is to take a little bit away from the form of punting to focus more on what you can to help out the team. And obviously it's been helping out the team a lot. And Turk's had a couple rough games but this past game he picked it up a lot. And I'm in there each day trying to help him out the most and trying to critique his form and help him out because I truly do know what's going on and all that. But he's gonna come a long way and all I know is if he punts like he does in practice in games, he's a Ray Guy finalist like that. He's amazing in practice."
So you played football and soccer all four years in high school?
"It was a tough balance. I never really picked up the form of punting because I was also a goalie and it was kind of like I would lose my form in both. But my junior year I was like, 'All right, I need to pick up the form.' So I know I'm gonna be able to pick up the form, it's almost like high school again. I need to balance my form for both field goal, kickoff and punting here in college. So it's almost like high school again where I just need to realize again that, 'Oh, it's gonna come along. Don't worry, it's gonna come.'"