Notre Dame adds graduate transfer kicker Blake Grupe from Arkansas State
The final kick of Blake Grupe's Arkansas State career fell short.
The fifth-year senior's 48-yard attempt with time expiring couldn't push the Red Wolves ahead of Texas State in a 24-22 loss on Nov. 27.
But Grupe will have a chance to end his college career on a better note. On Thursday morning, Grupe announced he would complete a graduate transfer to Notre Dame. He has already enrolled for the spring semester, which started on Monday.
The 5-foot-8, 148-pound Grupe, who earned a bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration at Arkansas State, entered the transfer portal earlier this month. He will use the NCAA's COVID-19 eligibility relief to play one final season at Notre Dame.
Grupe will help Notre Dame replenish a lot of lost experience in the kicking game following the 2021 season. Fifth-year kicker Jonathan Doerer's eligibility expired and third-year punter Jay Bramblett opted to pursue a graduate transfer.
Before Notre Dame landed Grupe, new special teams coordinator Brian Mason inherited sophomore-to-be kicker Josh Bryan and incoming freshman Bryce McFerson. Bramblett was also the team's holder, so long snapper Michael Vinson, who will be back for a fifth season, was the only veteran returning to Notre Dame's kicking operation.
After walking on at Arkansas State, Grupe became the starting place-kicker three games into his sophomore season in 2018. Grupe finished his Arkansas State career 64-of-86 on field goals (74.4%) with a long of 50 yards.
Doerer, who was Notre Dame's starting kicker the last three seasons, ended his career 49-of-64 on field goals (76.6%).
Grupe's accuracy was a bit up-and-down throughout his Arkansas State career. In two seasons, 2019 and 2021, Grupe made at least 80% of his field goal attempts. In his other two seasons as the starter, he made less than 67% of his attempts.
Grupe played through a hamstring injury in his first season as the starter in 2018, which resulted in him making just 14 of his 21 attempts (66.7%). He rebounded with a career-best season in 2019 by going 19-of-22 (86.4%), setting a school record with 110 kicking points in a season and shedding his walk-on status for a scholarship.
The accuracy regressed for Grupe in 2020. He made a career-low 11 field goals on 18 attempts (61.1%). He recovered in 2021 when he made 20-of-25 field goals (80%).
Grupe finished his Arkansas State career hitting 82.1% of his field goals under 40 yards (46-56) and 60% of his field goals of at least 40 yards (18-30). Grupe's career-long field goal of 50 yards was made in 2021.
Bryan, who spent his freshman season in 2021 behind Doerer, was the lone remaining scholarship kicker on Notre Dame's roster. He made his only extra point attempt in the 55-0 victory over Georgia Tech.
Bryan should still have a good shot of winning the kickoff duties for the Irish in 2022. Grupe was never Arkansas State's primary kickoff specialist for an entire season.
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