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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Observer

Crimson red to Irish green: Sot shines for Notre Dame

The 2022 off-season saw definitive upheaval for Irish football in every sense of the word. A new head coach, new coaching staff, a new starting quarterback, and then another one two games into the season.

Harvard graduate transfer punter Jon Sot became a major player in this upheaval. No one expected the Irish to start the season 1-2 and need a new quarterback after two games. But now, that that is the reality Irish fans live in, they’re looking for reliability. Sot has been able to fill that need for consistency.  

Sot has taken 19 punts on the season, more than half of those placed within the 20, including all four punts he took against Marshall. In the season opener at Ohio State, the former Ivy League punter unleashed a 75-yard bomb, and he averages about 45 yards per punt. 

Initially, Sot said he was nervous to come into the Irish locker room. However, he found that this game is life to everyone at Notre Dame, and they’re welcoming because of that. 

“It’s been awesome,” Sot said during camp. “Football-wise, it’s been great. The facilities here are awesome. The coaches are the best around. The guys on the team are so dedicated to this, you know, they love this. This is their life. Being able to come in here and be a part of that is incredible. I feel like I belong here, they’ve made me feel that way. I can’t wait to see what this team does.”

Despite how the season opened, that energy and that excitement haven’t faltered. Sot said he’s seen where the good has come through. 

“I love it here,” Sot told Irish Sports Daily. “Not the start we hoped for as a team. Special teams-wise [though], we’ve done a good job. [But special teams] 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.” 

For himself, Sot says he could be more consistent than he has been thus far, something he wouldn’t have been able to see in himself earlier in his career. 

“When I was young as a freshman, I wasn’t able to find my deficiencies,” Sot said. “Now that I’ve been in college for quite a while, I’m able, when I hit a bad punt, to figure out what I’m doing wrong and that’s been the most helpful thing for me.”

Making those adjustments required Sot to rely mostly on his confidence and putting the work in, he said. 

“Being a fifth-year guy, I’ve played college football. It might not have been on the same stage but I’ve been out there and I’ve prepared for different teams … I’m confident in what I do,” Sot said. 

Before he joined the Irish, Sot found success at Harvard too, albeit on a smaller stage. The 5-foot-10, 198-pound New Jersey native matched this year’s longest punt in his freshman year and punted farther than that in his sophomore year. His average hovered around 40 yards at Harvard. Now three games in with the Irish, that average is up 5 yards. But he has seen the most improvements over the years with his placements. Sot went from no placements inside the 20 to 10 in just three games. Those 10 punts tie him second in the nation.

Sot’s numbers have improved from his Harvard days in spite of a more intense stage, going from a crowd of about 20,000 people per game to close to 100,000. 

“When I was a kid, it was the moment you dream of, just being able to run out there but 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.”

Making that adjustment required Sot to dial in and rely on both the players around him and his coach, Mason.

“I’m fortunate enough to have great blocking and a great special teams coordinator that trusts me,” Sot said. “I’m especially thankful for [long snapper] Michael Vinson, he’s made my job so easy.”

Off the field, Notre Dame is also where Sot wanted to be, he said. The graduate student will complete a master of science in management program at the end of the year. He said he’s about to declare a finance concentration and is looking forward to finishing that second degree. 

“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,” he said. 

Sot takes pride in his work both on and off the field. He says his well-placed punts are just as exciting as the game changing plays.

“Putting them inside the 10, for me, is like throwing a touchdown or getting an interception because that’s what I do, so I take pride in that,” Sot said.