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Part 9, ST: When will we see a one-man kicking crew?
We haven't seen a team rely on one man to kick and punt since 1981. Are NFL teams, uh, kicking around that possibility? Also, who are the best returners in the draft?
Of the three leading punters in this NFL draft class, two also were their college team’s starting kicker for at least one season.
Of the three top kickers, one also doubled as his team’s punter.
Is the time right for an NFL team to save a roster spot and consolidate its kicking, punting and kickoff duties in one man?
“No. Zero,” said a special teams coordinator for an NFL team. “I believe it will never happen. Ever.”
Looks like Frank Corral can rest easily. The former Los Angeles Ram was the last specialist to attempt at least 10 field goals and 10 punts in one season. That was in 1981.
Penn State’s Jordan Stout, this year’s top punting prospect, had eight long-range field-goal attempts in 2019-’20 before becoming the Nittany Lions’ regular kicker last season. The No. 2 punter, San Diego State’s Matt Araiza, was the Aztecs’ field-goal kicker for three years before becoming the punter in 2021. Texas’ Cameron Dicker, the No. 2 kicker, added punting to his workload last season.
All three have the form and statistics to suggest they could be successful at either position. Other than emergency work, however, the kickers will be concentrating solely on kicking whereas the punters will practice strictly punting and holding.
The threat of injury looms largest as an insurmountable roadblock to uncovering the next Corral.
“What happens if Jordan Stout starts off the game and he’s kicking off, and he goes down to make a tackle and he gets hit and gets a concussion?” the coordinator said. “Who’s kicking field goals and who’s punting? You have nobody. At least nobody that can kick or punt to an NFL standard. You risk losing the game.”
Another major factor is leg fatigue.
“The long season leaves wear and tear even on a young leg,” another NFL coordinator said. “Probably wouldn’t be fair to a kid.”
The kicker-punter combination isn’t uncommon in college football largely because of roster size and a thinner pool of candidates. With 48 players dressing on Sunday (if there’s an eighth offensive lineman), NFL teams would almost never activate a backup specialist. Because college teams can dress many more players they have backup kickers and punters in uniform.
“A lot of times, because these (top) guys are so talented, even though they’re projected to be punters they’re also the best kicker on the team,” said one coordinator. “In college, the best guy is going to do it.”
Based on the casual eye test and stats, it’s difficult for fans to determine the strongest suit of a collegiate kicker-punter. NFL coaches and scouts make those evaluations yearly.
“He might be a good punter and just an OK kicker or a good kicker and just an OK punter,” one coordinator said. “You don’t have a high level at both. It’s hard for a guy to do both. The swing is so much different.”
In 2005, the Atlanta Falcons signed undrafted rookie Michael Koenen, who had done everything for four years at Western Washington. After punting, kicking off and handling 50-plus field goals as a rookie, Koenen was handed all placement duty in 2006 by coach Jim Mora and Joe DeCamillis, the Falcons’ special-teams.
“I think he’ll be fine,” Mora said a few days before the opener. “Am I going to tell him not to tackle anybody? No, I’m not going to do that. He’s a good little athlete. We’re just going to let him play the game.”
With the NFL game-day roster then set at 46 (with a third quarterback), Koenen was asked if his pioneering work might start a league-wide trend.
“It could,” he replied the week of the first game. “That’s how they used to do it. I guess it depends on how this trial goes.”
Koenen went 2 of 8 on field goals in the first two games, including four misses from 40 and in against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Georgia Dome in Week 2. Two days later, the experiment ended when the Falcons re-signed Morten Andersen, 46, to replace Koenen on placements. Koenen punted and kicked off for the Falcons and Bucs through 2014 but attempted just three more field goals.
A year later, Koenen looked back and said, “It’s easier to do just one thing, obviously. The best part about it is probably not having to take so many reps so there’s not as much wear and tear on your body.”
In 2009, Pat McAfee entered the NFL as a seventh-round draft choice of the Indianapolis Colts. At West Virginia, he was a four-year starter on placements and a 2 ½-year starter on punts. He made 73.4% of his field goal and posted a 43.7 average as a punter.
One NFL coach remembered McAfee telling him at the Senior Bowl that he hoped to do it all in the pros. Scott O’Brien, coordinating special teams in New England, said before the 2009 draft, “He’s strong at doing both but I think his upside is as a kicker. He may take longer than the rest to develop but he has the experience to develop.”
The Colts’ Adam Vinatieri was in the midst of his Hall of Fame career, so McAfee beat out fellow rookie Tim Masthay for the punting job. However, McAfee always politicked for the dual role and actually attempted two field goals in exhibition games, hitting from 31 and missing from 64. He envisioned himself as Vinatieri’s successor.
“I’ve yet to see a guy in the league that can do both at a high enough level,” Vinatieri said in June 2014. “The punting technique and form are a little different than field-goal kicking.
“There’s a lot of extra kicking. You’re focusing on one and maybe that’s pulling back on the other one just a little bit. And if you get injured, God forbid, all of a sudden you’ve got two (positions) to deal with instead of one guy.”
McAfee retired in February 2017 not long after the second of his two Pro Bowl seasons. Vinatieri’s career didn’t end until late 2019.
“Of anybody in the last 30 or 40 years, he could have done it even more so than Michael Koenen,” a veteran coordinator said. “Pat McAfee is way better than Koenen.”
According to Green Bay football historian Eric Goska, Corral (1978-’81) was one of only eight specialists since 1950 to have 100 field-goal attempts and 100 punts. The others were Sam Baker (1953-’69), Don Chandler (1956-’67), Tommy Davis (1960-’69), Danny Villaneuva (1960-’67), Mike Mercer (1961-’70), Don Cockroft (1968-’80) and Dennis Partee (1968-’75).
The 50-50 club from that era were Jim Bakken (1963-’78), Fred Cox (1963-’77), Dale Livingston (1968-’70) and Skip Butler (1971-’77).
It should be noted that the active roster from 1951-’56 was 33. It didn’t reach 40 until 1964.
According to David Neft, another football historian, the first member of the 100-100 club was Paddy Driscoll, who played from 1920-’29.
Meanwhile, the specialization at long snapper grows stronger by the year. One veteran coordinator said the last position player he could recall serving as the starting snapper was Joel Dreessen, a tight end for three teams from 2005-’13.
The coordinator said he could foresee the possibility of a position player doubling as the snapper far more than a kicker/punter handling double duty.
RANKING THE SPECIALISTS
1. CADE YORK, Louisiana State (6-1 ½, 205, no 40, Rounds 4-5): Declared a year early after starting for three years. “He has the best talent, production, upside,” said one NFL special-teams coach. “He’s big and strong. Made 15 of 19 from 50-plus. It’s unbelievable, it really is. He’s borderline cocky … but he’s got a good head on his shoulders.” His career long of 57 came with 23 seconds left in the fog to beat Florida, 37-34, in December 2020 after the Gators’ Evan McPherson, the rookie phenom for the Bengals, missed from 51 as time expired at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville. ”Everybody questions why he never kicked off,” said another coach. “Just one time. But they had a four-year kickoff guy. He can kick off. He’s exceptionally strong. He can do it. He proved that at the combine.” Made 81.8% of his field goals (54 of 66) and all but four of 168 extra points. “He struggled a little bit at the combine,” one coach said. “Make no excuses for it. But his pro day was outstanding. And he played at LSU; that’s a lot of pressure.” From McKinney, Texas.
2. CAMERON DICKER, Texas (6-1, 216, no 40, 5-6): The great Raven Justin Tucker came out of Texas also having kicked and punted. His career FG mark was 83.3%. In the 2012, Tucker was rated behind the likes of Blair Walsh, Randy Bullock and Greg Zuerlein. “I’m not saying this guy’s Justin Tucker but Justin did both, too,” one coach said. “He was just kind of OK statistically, and Dicker’s kind of the same way. If he just concentrates on kicking field goals and kicking off, and drops the punting part, he’ll help himself.” Dicker did all the kicking and kicking off for four years before taking over as the punter in 2021. Made 60 of 79 field goals (75.9%) and all but four of 210 extra points. His 50-plus career numbers were four of eight. Made 86.7% as a senior, his best year. “His season was good, and he had a phenomenal combine and a phenomenal pro day,” said another coach. “He’s kind of goofy but in a good way. He can laugh at himself. He has mental toughness that a lot of kids just don’t have.” Beat Oklahoma as a freshman with a 40-yarder in the closing seconds; converted a pair of walk-offs (26, 33) in 2019. Averaged 46.8 punting (44.8 net) in 2021. “York is so much more talented,” said one coach. “But I think he’s good enough to be picked in the fourth or fifth round based on his season.” From Austin, Texas.
3. GABE BRKIC, Oklahoma (6-2, 195, no 40, 7-FA): Fourth-year junior. Held the job from late September 2019 on. “A big statistic for me is what their field-goal percentage is over 40,” said one coach. “That’s a good indicator of leg strength. He’s better there than Dicker.” Converted 10 of 14 from 50-plus and 57 of 69 overall (82.6%). Was perfect (17 of 17) in 2019, including a 31-yard boot that beat Baylor in the last 2 minutes. “He’s got a big leg,” said another coach. “He was a little inconsistent but he’s very talented.” Missed just one of 160 conversions. Never had a field goal blocked. Career kickoff average was 61.6 yards; touchback rate was 49.2%. From Chardon, Ohio.
OTHERS: James McCourt, Illinois; Caleb Shudak, Iowa; Nick Sciba, Wake Forest; Jonathan Garibay, Texas Tech; Andrew Mevis, Iowa State.
1. JORDAN STOUT, Penn State (6-3 ½, 209, 4.63, 4): Exploded onto the scene in 2021 after a marginal first four years of college football, including 2017-’18 as a little-used walk-on at Virginia Tech. “He went from 41.5 in the shortened 2020 season to 46.0 this year, which is good,” said one coach. “What’s unique about him is he’s got a 44.5 net (in 2021). That’s reflective of hang times. His hang times are like some I’ve never seen. He can really get the ball up in the air when he wants to.” His net in 2020 was just 38.8. “He’s probably the best punter I’ve seen come out in several years,” another coach said. “Really talented. Great kid. Understands his craft. He can kick off, too. For a team with a veteran kicker he could punt and kick off.” Put on a show in the Senior Bowl game, averaging 50 (gross) and 50.3 (net) to go with 4.78 hang time. “What showed up at the Senior Bowl was he was really good directionally,” said one coach. “He put the ball to the sidelines very well. Then he had a really good combine. This is a guy who’s on the come in a big way. His junior year was just ordinary, even below ordinary. Then he exploded.” Kicked off in 2018 for the Hokies and three years for the Nittany Lions. Served as a holder in 2020 only. Finished with 100 punts for a 44.5 average. Made 20 of 32 field goals (62.5%) and 38 of 40 extra points. Two-time PSU captain. From Cedar Bluff, Va.
2. MATT ARAIZA, San Diego State (6-1, 201, 4.70, 5-6): Fourth-year, left-footed junior. “He’s got a great gross average but he’s pretty inconsistent,” said one coach. “Certainly more of a line-drive guy. He didn’t get near the hang time that Stout gets. But he had a really good combine and a really good pro day.” Kicked off all three years. Punted five times in 2020 and then 79 times in ’21, finishing with career gross of 51.1. His net was 44.2 in ’21. “He’s never held because he kicked field goals,” the coach said. “After watching him at pro day, the holding is going to be a deal for him. I can’t shade him above Stout because I think Stout will be a better holder. You’d be taking a little risk.” Finished 73.5% on field goals (50 of 68) and made all but one of 97 extra points. “He kicked off, but he’s more of a line-drive guy like he is as a punter,” said the coach. “He can really get it deep down the field but he doesn’t get it up as well.” Was a unanimous All-America pick as a freshman, the Aztecs’ first since RB Marshall Faulk in 1992-’93. At the combine, he crushed a 75-yard punt to the right corner with 4.53 hang time. “Big-time leg but raw, very raw,” another coach said. “He’ll probably be in a camp but I don’t know if he makes it right away.” From San Diego.
3. JAKE CAMARDA, Georgia (6-1, 195, 4.62, 7): Four-year starter. “Araiza’s more talented, Camarda’s more polished,” one coach said. “Araiza’s got a better leg. If you want a guy to come in and start right now, he might be better than Araiza. But Araiza has a bigger upside.” Punted 187 times for a 45.8 average. Nets were 42.1 in 2019, 41.8 in ’20 and 41.6 in ’21. “He’s been a starter for a long time with pretty good overall production,” another coach said. “He’s a good athlete. He’s a very effective holder. He’s also a very effective kickoff guy, like Stout is.” Did himself no favors in the Senior Bowl game, punting six times with average hang time of just 4.10. “He did not punt well in the Senior Bowl,” said one coach. “If you charted the game, you’d think this guy sucks. And the Senior Bowl practices were kind of that way. He was certainly not as effective directionally or from a consistency standpoint as Stout. He can get it up like Stout, but it’s a matter if he can do it consistently enough.” Described by one scout as “being as good of a leader as a specialist can be.” From Norcross, Ga.
OTHERS: Ryan Stonehouse, Colorado State; Trent Gill, North Carolina State; Ryan Wright, Tulane.
1. CAL ADOMITIS, Pittsburgh (6-1 ½, 235, 4.98, 7-FA): Handled both short and long snapping from 2017-’21, a total of 64 games. Posted 13 tackles. “(Pitt coach) Patt Narduzzi raves about him,” said one coach. “He’s probably good enough to make a team. I don’t know if he’s consistent enough to be the guy yet. He could develop.” Snapped in an NFL-style punt scheme in 2019 before the Panthers adopted a shield setup the past two seasons. “In 2020 and ’21 he didn’t ever have to protect,” another coach said. “They just snap and take off in coverage. You have to go back and watch him as a sophomore in 2019 and try to get a feel if he can do it or not. He’s solid. His size concerns me a little bit. He has some lineage in the league. He plays with a great deal of effort. I like that. He’s a solid athlete relative to the position.” His brother, Graham, played tight end at Princeton before spending 10 days as a free agent with Indianapolis in August. From Pittsburgh.
2. DANIEL CANTRELL, Boise State (6-0, 242, 4.86, 7-FA): Four-year starter. “Solid guy,” said one coach. “Solid athlete. He gets down the field. He’s pretty fast. Sometimes he’s a little bit out of control but he’s a pretty solid cover guy. He may have had as many tackles as anybody. In 2019, he had nine tackles, which is a lot for a college snapper.” Wanted to play linebacker early in his collegiate career. “Not asked to block often on punts but showed adequate willingness to finish on field-goal snaps,” said one scout. From Boise, Idaho.
3. BILLY TAYLOR, Rutgers (6-0 ½, 235, 4.84, FA): Five-year starter played a record-tying 58 games for the Scarlet Knights. As a freshman walk-on, he beat out the senior scholarship snapper. “Was in a shield punt system so wasn’t asked to block for punts,” one scout said. “An undersized snapper with adequate velocity, accuracy and marginal athleticism. Good intangibles and experience, but low upside.” Led the snappers in the 40, vertical jump (9-3), bench press (28 reps) and agility runs. Described as the smartest player on the team from an academic standpoint. “What separates a lot of these (snappers) is their athleticism, or lack thereof,” one coach said. From Parsipanny, N.J.
OTHERS: Jack Maddox, Clemson; Keegan Markgraf, Utah.
1. MARCUS JONES, CB, Houston (5-8, 177, no 40): Regarded as the top return specialist given his exciting run skills and vast four-year experience (73 kickoff returns, 63 punt returns). “He’s like Jamal Agnew,” said one scout. “Same kind of guy. Agnew was faster. He’s best served having the ball in his hands. He’s got a good chance to be a good dual return specialist, and he could get some offensive reps, too. He’s a midget. He’s competitive. He’s got as much potential on offense as he does on defense.” Averaged 28.4 on kickoffs (six touchdowns) and 14.0 on punts (three TDs). “More productive as a punt returner,” one coach said. “The biggest issue I have with him is he’s just not a big guy. It’s difficult to win with little guys. You just don’t see many 5-8, 174-pound players that make it, and can make it over the long haul. But he’s got nine career touchdowns in the return game. That’s a lot.” Averaged career-best 34.0 on kickoffs in 2021. “Great kid, very exciting, transfer from Troy,” another coach said. “Loved his tape. He did have some fumbles. Two this year, seven for his career, and lost four. Obviously, that’s an issue he’ll have to correct.” From Enterprise, Ala.
2. JAMESON WILLIAMS, WR, Alabama (6-1 ½, 180, no 40): Played at Ohio State for two years but didn’t return. Returned 10 kickoffs (no punts) for the Crimson Tide in 2021 and looked stupendous while doing it. “He’s the best dual returner,” one coach said. “I graded him as a dual returner because he’s got punt-return ability. Who knows if he’s going to be ready to do it or how long he’ll do it before he becomes a No. 1 receiver? He’s just an exceptional football player.” Averaged 35.2, returning two for TDs, before suffering a torn ACL in the FBS National Championship Game. “He’s the top kickoff returner,” another coach said. “He’s fantastic. Will he do it in the NFL? I think it’s unlikely. He’s going to be such a high-level receiver and coming off the ACL.” From St. Louis.
3. CALVIN AUSTIN, WR, Memphis (5-7 ½, 170, 4.42): Returned punts for three years, finishing with 29 for 11.1 and two TDs. Never returned a kickoff. “He’s tremendous,” said one coach. “He’s an incredible kid, too. I don’t think he’s too small for kickoffs. He was so productive as a receiver they probably didn’t want to put too much on his plate. That’s normally what happens with these guys. He ran a 4.32 (electronic time). He’s so explosive I think he could be a kickoff returner, but you just don’t want him to take those big hits. He’s certainly an exceptional punt returner.” Walk-on who redshirted in 2017 and became a starting receiver in 2020. “He has the toughness, vision, quickness and speed to consider as a punt returner at the next level,” one scout said. “I don’t see a dynamic or explosive player as a returner or even in his run after the catch, for that matter.” Caught 156 passes for a 16.3 average and 22 TDs. Also rushed eight times for 21.1 and three TDs. From Memphis.
4. BRITAIN COVEY, WR, Utah (5-8, 169, 4.50): Runs a close second to Marcus Jones when it comes to seasoning as a Power 5 returner. A five-year player, he returned 92 punts for an 11.9 average (four TDs) and 33 kickoffs for 25.4 (one TD). “He’s just a little-bitty shit but he’s super competitive and he’s super productive,” one coach said. “If you’re looking at that alone, he’d be (ranked) higher. He’s just so damn small. He’s just a peanut. He does both, but better as a punt returner. I would not bet against this guy.” Led the Utes in receiving as a true freshman in 2015 before embarking on a two-year mission to Chile. Turned 25 in March. “Undersized, but does a nice job tracking and catching kicks and punts,” another scout said. “Good first step, especially after catching punts in a crowd. Plenty of courage and confidence. Runs hard, especially for a smaller guy. His speed is like the speed for the guy that was in Pittsburgh. Ray-Ray McCloud. Ray-Ray doesn’t have exceptional speed but he’s fast enough to hurt you.” Scored 35 on the 12-minute, 50-question Wonderlic test. Had 184 receptions for 10.9 and 11 TDs. Missed a portion of the 2019 season after suffering a torn ACL and meniscus damage in late ’18. From Provo, Utah.
5. VELUS JONES, WR, Tennessee (5-11 ½, 204, 4.36): Six-year collegian was at Southern Cal from 2015-’19 before becoming a Volunteer. “Big, strong, good-looking athlete,” one coach said. “Strong hands. He did a really nice job with punt returns this year. With his size and speed he’ll be drafted and somebody will try him as a returner. I think he’s pretty dangerous.” Never returned a punt until 2021 when he brought back 18 for a 15.1 average. Returned 122 kickoffs over five seasons, averaging 24.4 with two TDs. “He’s a big, physical runner,” said one scout. “He looks and is built much more like a kickoff returner than a punt returner. I have real questions about his ability to judge the ball on punt returns. He doesn’t handle the ball real cleanly. It showed up on his pro day tape.” Best season on kickoffs was 2021 (27.3). Had just 58 receptions in his first four seasons before totaling 62 in ’21. From Saraland, Ala.
6. KYLE PHILIPS, WR, UCLA: (5-11, 185, 4.54): Returned some punts in each of his four seasons before declaring a year early. “He’s a solid little punt returner,” one coach said. “He’s competitive. Doesn’t have the same speed that these other (top) guys have. He’s a low 4.5 guy but he was very productive.” Averaged 19.3, including a career-best 22.6 in ’21, and had two TDs. Never returned a kickoff. Starting slot receiver for three seasons, leading the Bruins in receptions each year. Finished with 163 catches for 11.2 average and 17 TDs. “Liked him a lot,” another coach said. “He’s in the same category as those great slot receivers in New England: Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Wes Welker. He’ll be a solid return man and a great slot receiver.” From San Marcos, Calif.
7. BO MELTON, WR, Rutgers (5-11, 190, 4.42): In a five-year career Melton returned just 11 kickoffs and five punts. The results were so promising that his future could be more as a returner than receiver. “He’s got a chance,” said one coach. “He doesn’t have a lot of experience but once he gets coached up he’ll be outstanding.” All of his punt returns came in 2021; he averaged 19.2 (one TD). His average on kickoffs was 25.9. “He’s legit,” another coach said. “He is (exciting).” Melton, who is from Mays Landing, N.J., caught 164 passes for a 12.3 average and 11 TDs. “Confident runner,” a scout said. “Quick initial acceleration to turn upfield. Good run instincts, good contact balance. He absorbs glancing hits and keeps going.”
8. JALEN VIRGIL, WR, Appalachian State (6-0, 207, 4.39): Has never returned a punt but handled the kickoff chores in 2021 after part-time work in 2019-’20. Three of his 38 kickoff returns went for touchdowns, and he averaged 30.1. “He does a really nice job,” said one coach. “He’s been really productive as a kickoff returner. He hasn’t played a ton as a wide receiver. He hardly played at all this year.” A fifth-year senior, he finished with 98 receptions for a 14.7 average and 11 TDs. Has run 100 meters in 10.3. “Explosive speed,” one scout said. From Lawrenceville, Ga.
9. RASHID SHAHEED, WR, Weber State (5-10 ½, 181, no 40): Experienced five-year return specialist. Returned 40 punts for 14.4 and 88 kickoffs for 29.1 and seven TDs. “Hell, he’s got seven kickoff returns for TDs,” said one coach. “He does both, but not quite as productive as a punt returner.” Returned kickoffs all five years, punts for the last four. Caught 146 passes for 14.8 and 18 TDs. Suffered a torn ACL in mid-November. “The issue with him is the (knee),” the coach said. “I just don’t know when he’s going to be available.” From San Diego.
10. KALIL PIMPLETON, WR, Central Michigan (5-7 ½, 172, 4.49): Stamped himself as a prospect in the game at archrival Western Michigan on Nov. 3 with second-quarter punt returns for touchdowns of 70 and 95 yards. The last Chippewa to score on a punt return was Antonio Brown in 2009. “Wasn’t that unbelievable?” one coach said of Pimpleton’s MACTION exploits. “He seemed a little nervous (fielding punts), but when he is confident he does a good job of making the first defender miss. I think that’s what happened that night. He makes people miss and then he just took off. His speed isn’t great for a little guy. He has to improve tracking and catching punts that are not kicked directly to him.” Returned punts for three seasons, finishing with 48 for 11.8 and the two TDs. Returned merely two kickoffs for 13.0. Spent 2017 at Virginia Tech. A three-year starting wide receiver, he caught 170 passes for 12.5 and 12 TDs to go with 40 rushes, many as a wildcat quarterback, for 7.6 and five TDs. “He’s rocked-up but really short,” another coach said. “Solid little punt returner.” From Muskegon, Mich.
OTHERS: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State; Savon Scarver, WR, Utah State; Dallis Flowers, CB, Pittsburg State (Kan.); Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State; Trestan Ebner, RB, Baylor; Wan’dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky; Romeo Doubs, WR, Nevada; Zonovan “Bam” Knight, RB, North Carolina State; Charleston Rambo, WR, Miami.
Nick Sciba, K, Wake Forest: He made 80 of 89 field goals for 89.9%, which ranks second best in NCAA annals since 1956. Among the 89 attempts were 13 from 50 and beyond, of which he connected on 12. He also made all 193 of his extra points. But he doesn’t kick off, and NFL coaches have suggested that was because of limited leg strength.
Ryan Stonehouse, P, Colorado State: He’s 5-9 ½ and 193, 3 ½ inches shorter than any of the other top punters. Size is one drawback, but much more concerning is the fact that he didn’t hold. Despite his size, his remarkable leg strength and extreme hang time enabled him to post a four-year average of 47.8, which set the NCAA record for FBS punters. Kicking at favorable altitude in Fort Collins is another factor evaluators must consider.
SCOUT TO REMEMBER
John “Red” Cochran: His career as an NFL running back (Chicago Cardinals), assistant coach (Lions, Packers, St. Louis Cardinals, Chargers) and college scout (Packers) spanned seven decades. Won five NFL championships rings with Green Bay from 1961-’67. His final job was scouting for the Packers from 1975 until his death in 2004 at age 82, when he was still motoring around Wisconsin bird-dogging schools. Attended high school in Hueytown, Ala., and played at Wake Forest. “He was old school, a leather helmet guy, who told it like it was,” former Packers publicist Chuck Lane told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Marty Hendricks in 2015.
QUOTE TO NOTE
NFL special teams coach: “I used to say 60% of a punter’s job was punting and 40% was holding. I would say it’s now 55% holding and 45% punting. Now you’re not punting as much with the advent of analytics and going for it a lot more on fourth down. If a guy isn’t a very good holder it could affect your ability to score points. You can survive with a little less punting but you can’t miss field goals.”