Notre Dame kicker Justin Yoon is playing in his last season with the Fighting Irish. His stellar career, which leaves him as Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer in program history, will come to a close and he’ll head off to the next chapter, potentially in the National Football League.
In 2019, Notre Dame will have to break in a new kicker and last week, the Fighting Irish secured a commitment from a player who will surely push for that job next season.
Avon (Conn.) Old Farms three-star kicker Harrison Leonard announced his commitment to Notre Dame on Oct. 18. Special teams coordinator Brian Polian was in the northeast to watch the 5-11, 180-pounder practice and clearly was impressed. Following that visit, Leonard was extended a preferred walk-on opportunity with the Fighting Irish, one that Leonard wasted little time accepting.
“When coach Polian presented me with the opportunity to attend and kick at Notre Dame, it was truly inspirational for me,” said Leonard, the nation’s No. 7 kicker per KohlsKicking.com. “I quickly reflected on my past. When coach Jamie Kohl told me in the spring of my junior year that he believed I had the talent and I just needed to dedicate myself to kicking over baseball. I believed in him and it was a life changing moment for me. The amount of growth I made since that conversation was evident. Instead of being satisfied, it inspired me to work even harder every day. I was excited to get to work.”
Polian and Leonard have developed a strong, honest relationship over the past few months. Leonard visited Notre Dame on Sept. 15, watched the Fighting Irish in action, went on the tours, met with the academic advisors, and knew that Notre Dame was interested. Having Polian return the favor and come visit him in Connecticut had Leonard all smiles.
“It was an honor to have Coach Polian there watching me kick,” said Leonard. “I was blessed with an opportunity and I wanted to make sure I made the most of my opportunity.”
Following the visit, the two spoke on the phone about the opportunity and Polian made it clear that Leonard was very much coveted by the entire coaching staff in South Bend.
“The conversation went very well, as Coach Polian and I get along very well,” said Leonard. “He was very impressed and he was just as excited as I was. I accepted his offer right when he presented it.”
Leonard, the nation’s No. 14 kicker per the 247Sports Composite Rankings, accepted the offer to kick at Notre Dame over a similar offer from Utah, as well as additional interest from schools like Arizona, UConn, Oklahoma State, Princeton and others. For Leonard, kicking in college is one thing, but kicking at Notre Dame is on a completely different level.
“My whole entire family was extremely excited,” said Leonard. “I felt like I made my whole entire family proud. It was a great feeling and one I will never forget. My grandfather, Arthur Leonard, always wanted me to go to Notre Dame to play football. It was emotional for me because I knew he was looking down on me proud as can be.”
Per the 247Sports Composite Rankings, Leonard is the No. 17 prospect in Connecticut from the 2019 class.
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