Who will be the best punters out of the Group of Five conferences and Independent schools in 2017?
Group of Five defenses often struggle to achieve respect and results, especially when pitted against opponents from major conferences. Smaller programs rarely harbor the requisite size and depth to stifle quality attacks. And that’s why a skilled punter can be a D’s best friend, pinning offenses deep in their own end and preventing playmaking return men from establishing good field position. The following Group of Five and Independent punters possess the leg strength and overall experience to be defensive assets and all-star candidates in 2017.
Top Returning Group Of Five, Independent Punters
5. Tyler Newsome, Notre Dame
4. Austin Barnes, Eastern Michigan
3. Spencer Smith, Memphis
2. Michael Carrizosa, San Jose State
Carrizosa has been an unexpected gem for the Spartans over the past three seasons. After a slow start as a rookie in 2014, he erupted into one of the nation’s premier punters as a sophomore, even copping All-America honors with a robust average of 47.5 yards. And while Carrizosa’s average dipped to 44.3 yards a year ago, he continued to improve at the finer points of his craft, such as hang time and angling kicks to prevent returns.
1. Joseph Davidson, Bowling Green
While the Falcon D has struggled of late, don’t bother fingering Davidson, who’s actually been an enormous asset to the unit. The 6-7, 228-pounder with the powerful left has been voted to the All-MAC First Team in each of the last two seasons, ranking sixth nationally in 2016 with an average of 45.7 yards. Davidson, who carries a 3.94 GPA in the classroom, also displayed remarkable touch and precision, with just three of his 61 attempts winding up in the end zone for a touchback.