Punters are different. Superstitious loners at times; isolating themselves on the sidelines similar to the way they stand 12 yards behind everyone else the few times they're on the field each game. But they're not the headcases that kickers are. If they shank a punt for 3 yards, it's a big deal for about two minutes (unless they do it several times). It's not like missing a game-winning field goal. And they're often tougher than kickers. They'll make tackles (or at least attempt to) because if the returner gets to them it means they didn't punt it well or the coverage team screwed up, so they're mad. Sometimes they grow massive, awesome beards. Sometimes they start warming up in a conference championship game because they're the de facto 3rd-string QB. They tend to be multi-talented. Drew, the son of former WVU tight end Jim Kaser (who played for the legendary Don Nehlen) is also Texas A&M's holder in addition to being one of the three finalists for college football's most outstanding punter, the Ray Guy Award. Does he deserve to win? We think he does, and here's a highlight video set to explicit rap music (as every punting video should be) to show you why:
Some Background: Q&A with Previous Aggie Punter Ryan Epperson
Ryan was actually proactive enough to join GBH and start pushing Drew for the Ray Guy Award in this fanpost while we were still putting this piece together. So naturally, when we reached out to him and asked him to answer a few questions, he was more than willing to help us out. Being teammates with Drew for the previous two seasons gave us some really exclusive insight.
Good Bull Hunting: The 2012 Aggie offense was prolific. What was it like being the punter on a team like that? Did you get bored?
Ryan Epperson: The 2012 season was something out of a fairy tale, but it was awesome being a punter. Even though I wasn't getting to punt that much, I think it put that much more pressure on the few punts that I did get, so I really had to stay focused and tuned in the entire game. When you punt in those games when you are out on the field a lot, you tend to relax a little more, and I think the lack of punts actually helped me stay tuned in. At times it could get boring, especially the games I never got to punt at all, but for the most part it was just awesome watching our offense go to work. It's hard to get bored when your offense scores on virtually every single drive. Side note: I couldn't even tell you the number of times I walked down the sideline for "Punt Alert" on 3rd down, and our offense converted. I'm pretty sure it was good luck.
GBH: How much did you get to work with Drew in 2011 and 2012? Have you seen a steady improvement in his punting over the past three seasons?
RE: Since we were spending every practice together, we got to work together a lot. Drew's main issues were flexbility, leg swing, and drop point. If you watched film of him punting this year compared to freshman year, you wouldnt even believe it was Drew. It is easy to tell he has worked really hard this past off season to figure out how to tie everything he has been trying to fix together. His consistency always hurt him, which was because of some of his technical ability, but I would say he has it figured out pretty well now. His mis-hits are no longer shanks, and look more like he is barely missing the sweet spot, so the ball is still travelling 40ish yards, which is great.
GBH: How did the philosophy regarding special teams (particularly punting) change along with the coaching change from 2011 to 2012?
RE: In 2011,The punting scheme was very directional, and Toth just wanted us to pound the ball as far as possible. Obviously you don't want to let up punt return yards, but Net Average wasn't something we addressed in ST meetings. As long as I had a good average or pooch punts, they were happy. I think our Net Punt Average my junior year was around 33 yards, ranked somewhere in the 90's in the country (not good). The very first thing Polian addressed was out Net Punt Average. He wanted hang time punts, fair catches, and a net avearge above 38 every game. The last thing he wanted was a 55yrd punt with 4 seconds of hang time. So I guess you could say he really changed the punting philosophy. (Against Alabama, he told me he would high five me after every punt if I hit it 37 yards, and out of bounds).
GBH: What do you think Drew's strengths as a punter are?
RE: Leg strength and leg speed. Drew is very athletic, and his leg swing is extremely fast. Almost like saying, you can teach technique and build muscle, but you can't teach speed. Drew has the leg speed and the strength, hence 40% of his punts going 50+. He is also very level headed and laid back, which are both good qualities to have in a specialist. His drops used to be a big issue, but now I wouldn't say that. Watching this year, they have improved 10 fold. Overall, he's turning into a major weapon.
A Portrait of a Punter: Q&A with Drew
Good Bull Hunting: Who is your punting hero?
Drew Kaser: My punting hero would probably have to be Shane Lechler. It's pretty cool that I go to the same school that he did and am in competition with a couple of his records here. I also had the privilege of meeting him this season, it's pretty cool whenever you can sit back and talk to your idol and be able to relate to him about so many things.
GBH: Strongville, Ohio is a long way from College Station. What led you here?
DK: My recruiting coach at the time was from my hometown and there was an instant connection. Then when I came down here for my official visit, I was leaving a meeting with the Ohio State head coach and almost missed my plane. But it was 10 degrees with a foot of snow on the ground back at home and then when I came here in mid January it was 65 and sunny. Then I just fell in love with the university, facilities, people, and atmosphere down here.
GBH: What's the furthest you've ever booted a football?
DK: My furthest punt in a game came in the Rice game at 76 yards, but I have hit a few 80-90 yarders on my own.
GBH: You lick your hands before every snap. Is that sanitary and have you considered wearing gloves to improve your grip?
DK: I am not too sure that anything in football is too sanitary. But it's more of a routine that I have always had. Gets a little stick to my hands and makes me feel a little more comfortable with handling the snap. Many athletes lick their hands before throwing the ball or catching a ball. But I do not use a glove on my right hand cause I think that the ball would stick too much and affect my drop. I have used a glove on my left hand in certain situations, but I feel more confident in using no gloves.
GBH: If you were Alabama's holder during the Iron Bowl, would you have tackled Chris Davis during his return?
DK: That's a tough situation, I feel bad for the Holder for Alabama. Its a tough place to be in, his team wasn't ready to cover down and made it hard for him to make the tackle. But I think I might have had a pretty good shot at it after the hit I had on the Mississippi St. returner at the end of the game. It would have been a close call.
GBH: On a related note, you've only recorded one tackle so far this season. Do you think you can do better next year?
DK: I hope not, cause if I tackle that means that the returner got past my coverage team and that usually means I did not hit a good enough punt for them to cover with placement and height. So hopefully I won't have to come across that next year, but would I mind hitting a few guys? I would like to get out there and get a few hits on some people.
GBH: Can you do any trick shots/kicks? Is there a Dude Perfect video in your future?
DK: I do have a little bag of trick shots. I don't know if Dude Perfect would want to do one with a Punter, but I'd sure be more than happy to do one with them.
GBH: Other than punting and holding, what position are you most qualified to play?
DK: I think either WR or QB. I do have some football in my blood with my Grandpa and Dad playing college and professional football. I also have some speed and moves, along with a half decent arm. So it would be interesting to see how well I would do at those positions.
GBH: Being a Ray Guy Award finalist is a big deal. Are you going to win?
DK: It is such a huge honor to be a finalist for the award. There are many great punters in college this year, it's hard to really minimize it just to us three. But I have some great competition with Cody Webster and Tom Hornsey. Both guys have had great years so it will be interesting to see who will win the award.
SPECIAL THANKS, for answers:
US GUYS with the questions:Dr. Norris Camacho