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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Punter Jon Sot Winning On and Off the Field

September 22, 2022

One of Notre Dame's most consistent players this season has been someone no one knew much about entering the season and technically a player the Fighting Irish prefer not to be on the field. 

Punter Jon Sot has been a pleasant surprise for Notre Dame this year as the graduate transfer has been one of the best in the country. 

The 5-foot-10, 198-pounder decided to transfer from Harvard and the transition has been seamless. 

"I love it here," stated Sot. "Not the start we hoped for as a team. Special teams-wise, we've done a good job. Coach (Brian) Mason tells us being good isn't good enough. We want to be the best of the best. We want to be elite. There's improvements to be made all around special teams. There's a lot I could improve on. My consistency level could go up a little bit. 

"The camaraderie around the locker room is great. It's very different than where I'm coming from." 

What has been the most significant change for Sot? It's probably what you would guess. 

"The level of competition is just crazy," Sot explained. "Harvard, we'd get 10,000, maybe 20,000 at the games. Here, we're selling out. It's just completely different."

Sot knew the competition and crowds would be different, but it didn't change the emotions of experiencing it for the first time Columbus.  

It was Sot accomplishing a dream as every football player wants to compete on that stage in primetime. 

"It started with Ohio State and that was the most people I've ever played in front of," Sot said. "When I ran out of the tunnel, my emotions, I started to tear up because of how crazy the environment was. 

"When I was a kid, it was the moment you dream of, just being able to run out there. You've got to be able to settle that down and go do your job. That's been the biggest change for me, just the atmosphere and seriousness of this level of football."

Despite larger crowds and more pressure, Sot has adjusted well as he's averaging 45.2 yards per punt this season. 

Sot's game doesn't stop there as he's also pinned opponents inside the 20 nine times and forced eight fair catches on 19 punts. 

The consistency and game-changing punts might have surprised some, but Sot is just doing the same thing he's done before landing at Notre Dame. 

"I think my age," So said of how he is so calm. "It's definitely been different. Football in the ivy league is different. I've played three years before this. I had over 100 punts before I got here. 

"Once you're out there, it's all the same. Just see the ball come from the snapper and just do your job." 

Experience was a significant positive for special teams coordinator Brian Mason when he was looking for a punter. The Notre Dame roster lacked experience and freshman Bryce McFerson enrolled in June. 

"He's an experienced guy who has handled things really well," said Mason. "He has great poise and a demeanor to him and he has a good work ethic as well."

And Mason turned over every rock to find out all he could about Sot and graduate transfer kicker Blake Grupe. 

"It's a little bit of a benefit when you get guys who have game experience and you can watch their game film and be able to get real experience of how they can do," explained Mason. "I communicate with their kicking coach and coordinator. I didn't talk to the head coach. 

"I was able to get a lot of really good information on them because I could see they're really good students and they're taking care of their business off the field and have had success on the field. I was able to get all that information just by talking to their kicking coaches and game film."

The transition to the field speaks for itself, but Sot will be the first to admit that adapting to a new school and football program was challenging as he wasn't on campus in the spring. 

Fellow transfers Grupe and Brandon Joseph (safety) arrived in time for spring ball. Both were able to take their time to build relationships in the locker room and find comfort at Notre Dame. 

It was much different for Sot and fellow Harvard grad transfer Chris Smith as both arrived in June. Both had a much shorter timeline to adjust to a new locker room and win a job. 

Yet, both players quickly found out what makes Notre Dame special as they were taken in immediately by the locker room. 

"When I first got here, I felt like I was a freshman in college again," stated Sot. "You've got to meet over 100 guys and you've got to try to make relationships with them. I'm not fortunate enough to be able to do that. I only have one summer and one season. 

"At first, it was tough, but the people here are amazing. The brotherhood is real here. Everybody takes care of each other. I feel I continue to keep developing those relationships. It helped in the beginning, I talked to Milk (Michael Vinson) a lot and I talked to Blake a lot. The specialists room made it easy on me." 

The Harvard economics major will wrap up his college football career this year and Sot will have two of the most prestigious degrees one can earn. 

"I'm doing a master's of science in management. I'm going to declare this week. I'm going to do the finance concentration. 

"For me, aside from the football, another reason I was attracted to here was being able to pair Harvard and Notre Dame with my two degrees. That's really something I'm proud of." 

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