August 10, 2022

College Football’s 15 best punters of 2022

College Football's 15 best punters of 2022

Texas A&M punter Nik Constantinou punts the ball during the third quarter against Colorado Saturday September 11, 2021 on Empower Field at Mile High Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

Field position is arguably the most important aspect in today’s game.

Punters are the unsung heroes who play a huge role in pinning opponents deep in their territory. There’s nothing like making an offense drive the entire length of the field. However, there are several punters who are still walk-ons, trying to earn a scholarship.

These 15 student-athletes proved their worth with tremendous leg power on the gridiron last season. And now they’re all out to sharpen their skills with spring ball in the air.

15. Kyle Ulbrich, Middle Tennessee: The Ohio native finished third in Conference-USA in net punting average last season. Ulbrich’s leg is very powerful, and he landed 24 punts inside the 20-yard line. Not to mention 16 of his punts went for 50-plus yards. Only five of Ulbrich’s punts went for touchbacks. He had a season-long, 74-yard punt in the win over Marshall. The six-foot, 193-pounder averaged 49.6 yards per boot in the victory over Southern Miss. With Ulbrich back on the gridiron, the Blue Raiders have a chance to reach bowl eligibility for a second-straight year.

14. Anthony Beck, Georgia Southern: The Georgia native is a very versatile athlete, who can handle punt and kickoff duties. Beck averaged 44.32 yards per punt, which ranked second in the conference, and earned second-team, All-Sun Belt honors last season. He landed 23 of his punts inside the 20-yard line, and only two went for touchbacks. Not to mention 17 of Beck’s punts went for 50-plus yards. The six-foot-four, 230-pounder averaged 48 yards on a season-high, 10 punts at Arkansas. Beck booted a 63-yarder against Georgia State, which was his longest of 2021.

13. Jeremy Crawshaw, Florida: The former two-star prospect finished third in the SEC in yards per punt last season. Crawshaw was a natural at pinning opponents deep in their own territory. The Australian landed 20 balls inside the 20-yard line.  Not to mention 20 of his punts went for 50-plus yards. Only six of Crawshaw’s punts went for a touchback. The six-foot-four, 188-pounder booted a ball for 69 yards in the win over Vanderbilt, which was his longest of the season. With a productive spring, Crawshaw will give the Gators’ new coaching staff a weapon in field position.

12. Oscar Chapman, Auburn: The Australian finished second in the SEC in yards per punt as a freshman last season. Chapman ranked 18th in the Power Five in net punting average. He showed a lot of promise with his leg, and landed 23 punts inside the 20-yard line. Not to mention 12 of Chapman’s punts went for 50-plus yards. The six-foot-three, 202-pounder averaged 56 yards on three punts in the victory over Ole Miss. Chapman’s 65-yarder against the Rebels was his longest of the season. Coach Bryan Harsin will have options in field position this fall with Chapman booting balls.

11. Porter Wilson, Duke: The Blue Devils suffered a 3-9 campaign last season, but the Ohio native was one of their bright spots. Wilson finished third in the ACC, and 15th in the Power Five in yards per punt. He landed 22 of his punts inside the 20-yard line. Not to mention Wilson booted 17 balls for 50-plus yards. There’s no denying the former three-star prospect has blossomed into one of the best punters in the league. New Duke Coach Mike Elko is inheriting a leader with a ton of experience and production in Wilson. The six-foot-five, 225-pounder is poised for a breakout year in 2022.

10. Peter Moore, Virginia Tech: The former two-star prospect is coming off a solid season and looking to make bigger strides in 2022. Moore finished fourth in the ACC, and 25th in the FBS in yards per punt last season. The six-foot-one, 207-pounder landed 23 punts inside the 20-yard line. Not to mention Moore booted 24 balls for 50-plus yards. Moore’s 68-yard punt at Boston College was his longest of the season. The Maryland native averaged 51.8 yards on six punts at Miami. The cherry on top to Moore’s campaign was capping it off with third-team, All-ACC honors.

9. Lachlan Wilson, Tulsa: The Australian finished second in the AAC, and 18th in the FBS in yards per punt in 2021. Wilson displayed a powerful leg and landed 21 balls inside the 20-yard line. Not to mention 23 of his punts went for 50-plus yards. Wilson’s 67-yard punt at Ohio State was his longest of the season. He averaged 54.4 yards on five punts in the victory over Arkansas State. There’s no denying Wilson was one of the best punters in the conference last year. However, he didn’t even receive Honorable Mention consideration, so expect Wilson to play with a chip on his shoulder.

8. Matt Hayball, Vanderbilt: The Commodores landed a gem from the transfer portal this past January in Hayball. The Australian finished second in Conference-USA, and 16th in the FBS in yards per punt last season. Hayball landed 28 of his punts inside the 20-yard line. Not to mention 17 of his punts went for 50-plus yards. Hayball’s 68-yard punt at UAB was is longest of the season. He averaged 51.1 yards on a season-high, nine punts in the win over UTEP. Hayball will come into the SEC ready to ball out, considering he only received Honorable Mention, All-C-USA last year.

7. Rhys Byrns, Louisiana: The Australian put up some nice numbers during the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 13-1 campaign last season. Byrns ranked second in the Sun Belt and 11th in the FBS in yards per punt. Not to mention Byrns earned first-team, All-Sun Belt honors. The six-foot, 188-pounder landed 22 of his punts inside the 20-yard line. He also booted 19 of his balls for 50-plus yards. Byrns’ 70-yard punt in the victory at Troy was his longest of the season. Coach Michael Desormeaux inherits one of the league’s best players in Byrns, who’s poised to do damage again in 2022.

6. Tory Taylor, Iowa:The former two-star prospect was named the Big Ten’s Punter of the Year in 2020. Taylor also put together another great season in the Hawkeyes’ 10-4 campaign in 2021. He finished third in the Big Ten, and 12th in the FBS in yards per punt. The Australian landed a jaw-dropping, 39 punts inside the 20-yard line. Not to mention 27 of Taylor’s punts went for 50-plus yards. Taylor averaged a season-high, 51.1 yards on eight punts in the victory at Iowa State. His return to the Hawkeyes solidifies they’ll be elite again on special teams this fall.

5. Lou Hedley, Miami: The former three-star prospect has been a very productive player for the Hurricanes over the past two seasons. Hedley ranked second in the ACC and 14th in the Power Five in yards per punt last year. Not to mention he earned second-team, All-ACC honors. Hedley landed 19 of his punts inside the 20-yard line. Only one of Hedley’s punts went for a touchback because he’s crafty with his kicks. The Australian had 11 of his punts soar for 50-plus yards. Hedley will be Coach Mario Cristobal’s secret weapon, and should keep the Hurricanes in close games this fall.

4. Nik Constantinou, Texas A&M: He made a name for himself in the almighty SEC last season. Constantinou finished first in the conference, and 17th in the FBS in yards per punt. The Australian landed 22 punts inside the 20-yard line. Constantinou also booted 19 balls for 50-plus yards. Not to mention just two of his punts went for touchbacks. Constantinou’s 65-yard bomb in the win over Colorado was his longest of the season. The six-foot-three, 230-pounder capped off his spectacular year with first-team, All-SEC honors. Constantinou will bury opponents deep in 2022.

3. Bryce Baringer, Michigan State: The Michigan native played a pivotal role in the Spartans’ 11-2 campaign last season. Baringer finished first in the Big Ten and fifth in the FBS in yards per punt. He also earned second-team, All-Big Ten honors for his heroics. Baringer landed 20 punts inside the 20-yard line. Not to mention he booted 26 balls for 50-plus yards. Baringer punted the ball nine times at Ohio State, including a 74-yarder, which was his longest of the season. The six-foot-three, 210-pounder averaged a season-high, 58.8 yards on six punts in the victory over Nebraska.

2. Kyle Ostendorp, Arizona: The former three-star prospect put up video game numbers, and averaged nearly 50 yards per punt last season. The Wildcats suffered a 1-11 campaign, but Ostendorp ranked first in the Pac-12, and third in the FBS in yards per punt. Not to mention he capped off the year with first-team, All-Pac-12 honors. He landed 17 of his punts inside the 20-yard line. The Phoenix native also booted 17 of his balls for 50-plus yards. Ostendorp’s 71-yard punt against San Diego State was his longest of the year, plus he booted the ball a jaw-dropping, 10 times.

1. Adam Korsak, Rutgers: Scarlet Knight fans will argue that he got snubbed for the Ray Guy Award over the past two seasons. And rightfully so, considering Korsak has remained consistent with his numbers. He ranked ninth in the Power Five in yards per punt in 2021. Korsak capped off the year with first-team, All-Big Ten and second-team, AP All-America honors. The Australian landed a jaw-dropping, 38 punts inside the 20-yard line. Not to mention 19 of his punts went for 50-plus yards. Korsak’s 74-yard bomb against Penn State was his longest of the season. None of his punts went for a touchback.

Honorable Mention

Reid Bauer, Arkansas: The Texas native landed 16 of his punts inside the 20-yard line. Bauer booted 14 balls for 50-plus yards. Not to mention only three of his 58 punts went for touchbacks. The Razorbacks will field arguably the SEC’s best special teams unit this fall with Bauer alongside kicker Cam Little.