|Senior kicker Nick Tausch
(Note: The number listed in parenthesis is the years of eligibility remaining and the listing of a player's class is based upon the upcoming 2012 season.)
On the roster
Specialists departed: K-David Ruffer, H-Ryan Kavanagh
Specialists returning: Sr.-Ben Turk (P, 1), Sr.-Jordan Cowart (LS, 1), 5th-Braxston Cave (SS, 1), Sr.-Nick Tausch (K, 2), Soph.-Kyle Brindza (K/P, 3), Fr.-Scott Daly (LS, 4)
Possible position switch: None
Committed specialist recruits: Scott Daly
Specialist offers (2011-12): None besides Daly
Specialists on the ND board: None
Junior specialists verbally committed: None
Junior specialist offers (2012-13): None
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The incredible career of David Ruffer, the former walk-on transfer from William & Mary, didn’t have the storybook finish that the start of his career offered. But his consistency throughout the majority of his last 29 games in a Notre Dame uniform was rather remarkable.
After making the first 23 field-goal attempts of his career - five at the end of 2009 and then the first 18 of 2010 - Ruffer missed his final attempt of the season in the Sun Bowl against Miami, and then struggled out of the gate in 2011. He missed four of his first seven attempts in ’11, made the next seven, and then missed his final two, including a 20-yarder against Stanford and 47-yarder in the first quarter of the Champs Sports Bowl. Still, it was a remarkable story, and his 33-of-40 field goal attempts in his career (.825) will be very difficult for his predecessors to duplicate.
The duties now fall to the toe of senior-to-be Nick Tausch and sophomore-to-be Kyle Brindza. Lost amidst Ruffer’s incredible run was the fact that Tausch set a Notre Dame record for consecutive field goals (14) during his freshman season before a leg injury opened the door for Ruffer. Despite being “Wally Pipped” by Ruffer, Tausch - who preserved a year of eligibility in 2011 - enters his final two years of eligibility with a career 15-of-18 mark on field goals.
One of the most improved players on the 2011 roster was punter Ben Turk, who averaged just 38.3 yards per punt through his first two seasons (94 attempts) before bouncing back with a solid junior season. He opened with just a 33.8-yard average through his first nine punts of ’11, but then averaged 41.6 yards per his final 44 attempts of the season.
Holder Ryan Kavanagh, who played an integral role in Ruffer’s success in 2010-11, must be replaced. Long-snapper Jordan Cowart enters his final season of eligibility with the Irish as incoming freshman Scott Daly waits in the wings. Cowart missed four games in 2011 with a hand injury. Braxston Cave should return to short-snapping duties in the fall after recovering from a season-ending foot injury suffered in the ninth game of the season against Wake Forest.