The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will, once again, take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2021 season.
#39 Jonathan Doerer, Kicker
Jonathan Doerer was a late addition to the 2017 Irish recruiting class, decommitting from the Maryland Terrapins and pledging to the Irish two days prior to National Signing Day. Coming out of Charlotte, he was the #14 kicker in the 2017 class and #51 overall player in the state of North Carolina.
Doerer spent his first two years as a kickoff specialist and occasional backup for Justin Yoon. In 2017 he gained some unfortunate distinction for his struggles in the kickoff game, which frequently forced Yoon back on to the field. He started to gain some more consistency in 2018, when he notched 25 touchbacks on 56 kickoffs. He also knocked through his first career field goal, a 30-yarder against Navy in San Diego.
Doerer came into his own as the starting kicker in 2019 and 2020, a season in which he never missed a PAT (57-for-57) while going 17-for-20 on field goals and set an Irish record for points scored by a kicker in a season (108). Doerer was one of the heroes (and won the game ball) in Notre Dame’s win against the USC Trojans, in which he made field goals of 45, 52 and 43 yards - crucial points in a game the Irish ended up winning by only three.
2020 was a season of highs and lows for Doerer. He was solid for most of the season and was absolutely money in the instant-classic win over the Clemson Tigers, going for 4-for-5 (the one kick he missed was from 57 yards shortly before halftime, and would have been returned for a touchdown by Travis Etienne if not for Jay Bramblett’s heroic tackle - what a game) and scoring 17 total points to earn Lou Groza Star of the Week honors.
Unfortunately he also had some struggles toward the end of the season, going 3-for-6 on field goals in Notre Dame’s last three regular season games. He had a notable miss (following a 51-yard make) against Clemson in the ACC Championship game, after which the Irish fell silent and the Tigers exploded with 34 unanswered points (in my view Doerer was not the real problem here, as this kick should not have been attempted so close to the goal line in such a big game). He then missed his only attempt in the playoff semifinal against the Alabama Crimson Tide, a long one before halftime which would have cut the Irish deficit but not done much to change the outcome. His late-season struggles put a damper on an otherwise solid season for Doerer, who was once again perfect on PATs (48-48), and was making kicks at a nearly 80% clip prior to his late-season slide.
The Restaurant That Fits
Jack & Ginger’s
Jack & Ginger’s is an Irish pub here in Dallas. Doerer plays for the Fighting Irish, Jack is an applicable nickname for Jon/Jonathan names and Ginger’s works because...well, you know.
Doerer is returning for a fifth year in 2021 and despite some occasional struggles, he has delivered several big wins to the Irish over the years and already racked up some remarkable career numbers. He has earned the right to go unchallenged as Notre Dame’s starting kicker. If he can mentally erase those late-season struggles and return to 2019/early 2020 form, he could be listed right alongside his predecessor Justin Yoon as an all-time great Irish kicker.