Aug. 26, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Senior placekicker/punter D.J. Fitzpatrick, sophomore placekicker/punter Carl Gioia, and senior fullback Josh Schmidt all have been awarded scholarships for the 2004-05 school year at Notre Dame after serving the team as non-scholarship players, Irish head football coach Tyrone Willingham announced Thursday. Fitzpatrick (Granger, Ind.) enters the 2004 season battling for the starting position at both placekicker and punter after serving in both roles in 2003. The senior played in all 11 games last season, starting eight as the placekicker and punter, and made 12 of 17 field-goal attempts (70.6 percent), including a long of 50 yards against Navy. Also against the Midshipmen, Fitzpatrick kicked the game-winning field goal on the game’s final play in a 27-24 Notre Dame victory. Fitzpatrick also averaged 36.8 yards per punt on 44 attempts, downing seven punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and posting a season-long punt of 50 yards. Gioia (Valparaiso, Ind.) is competing for a role in placements and as a punter this fall. He did not see game action as a freshman in 2003 after choosing to attend Notre Dame following an outstanding prep career in which he was a three-time all-state selection by the Indiana Football Coaches Association at Valparaiso High School. Schmidt (Germantown, Tenn.) is a veteran fullback who emerged as a receiving threat out of the backfield in 2003. The recipient of the 2003 Knute Rockne Student-Athlete Award as the team’s top academic performer, Schmidt caught 13 passes for 125 yards last season while playing in all 12 games, including a starting assignment against Brigham Young. In addition to his duties at fullback, Schmidt has been a special-teams stalwart the last two seasons.