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Notre Dame Football

James Rendell Up for College Football Challenge at Notre Dame

June 27, 2024

The last two months have been a whirlwind for James Rendell. 

In April, Rendell was planning to start his college football career at Hawaii, but then Notre Dame made the trip to Australia. 

Special teams coordinator Marty Biagi needed a punter after Bryce McFerson headed to the Transfer Portal and Rendell quickly became Notre Dame’s top priority, which led to the Fighting Irish landing the Melbourne native. 

“It’s quite the journey,” stated Rendell. “Essentially, I was training with Prokick Australia, which is an academy renowned for returning ex-rugby or ex-Aussie rules or soccer guys into being elite punters in college football and they’ve got a good track record for getting guys into the NFL as well.

“I was essentially training with them and got myself into a position where I was good enough to be scouted by other colleges, and fortunately Notre Dame was the one that wanted me. I think it’s a really good fit, and I’m really happy to be here.”

Rendell is more than familiar with the game of football, as he grew up watching college football on. Sunday mornings in Australia, but he has yet to actually play in a game. Now, the transition to punting in a live game will be easier than say if he was planning to play left tackle, but Rendell is more than looking forward to strapping the pads on. 

“We haven’t got the pads and the helmet on yet, besides the one photoshoot that I did,” Rendell said. “I didn’t wanna take them off. I felt pretty good with that helmet on.”

The 6-foot-6, 219-pounder has worked hard to learn the game of football and break some habits he developed playing Australian Football in the Victorian Football League. It’s been a process, but it’s also what ProKick has done hundreds of times with former Aussie football players. 

“In some ways, the kick is really similar and in other ways, it’s different,” explained Rendell. “ProkKck do a good job of sort of breaking down all Aussie rules kicking style habits and then building it back up with the American style.

“I guess the biomechanics and the muscle memory were sort of the biggest challenges, just to try and get that technique more appropriate for American football. It’s something I worked on tirelessly, and it’s a credit to the coaches at Prokick for helping facilitate that transition.”

Rendell believes he’s walking into the perfect situation at Notre Dame as there is playing time available, but also due to Biagi’s background. As a former punter, Biagi will be able to develop Rendell from the ground up and that is priceless. 

“I always knew I had a pretty big kick,” said Rendell, who has unleashed some 80-yard bombs during summer workouts. “It was more so just about maintaining consistency, which I’ve been able to do. I’m still working on my craft every day. Coach Biagi’s obviously an ex-punter as well. He punted at Marshall back in his college days, so now he’s been really good for facilitating my development as well.”

Off the field, Rendell has an undergraduate degree from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and has at least one year remaining of eligibility. There is also a rabbit hole where Rendell could get up to three years of eligibility, but that will be figured out down the line. 

“I’ve got one year, but I’ve been trying to pursue a college football career for quite some time now, but was ultimately prevented from coming to the U.S. due to circumstances that were out of my control,” Rendell explained. “There are grounds to receive eligibility waivers. Gonna see how that plays out, but for now, I’m just solely focused on the present and this upcoming season.”

Outside of his personal motivation to succeed, Rendell will always be playing for his late father, Matt, who was a legendary player and figure in the Australian Football League. 

“He was actually the person that first sort of sewed that seed of pursuing this career in my mind, back in watching that championship game in 2017,” said Rendell. “He always believed in me and knew it was something I could do.

“He ended up passing away last year, so it was something I always wanted to pursue, but once he passed away, I knew it was something I needed to pursue. It sort of feels like he’s with me on this journey.

“I actually was offered from Notre Dame on what would have been his 64th birthday this year, so maybe there’s a little bit in that.”

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