Since becoming the head coach of the Wisconsin football program, seemingly everything Luke Fickell touches turns to gold. From the revamped coaching staff to impact transfer portal additions, he’s given Badgers fans plenty of reason to be optimistic about the team’s future.
And even though Wisconsin’s staff has managed to plug all of the most prominent holes on the roster through the transfer portal, the Badgers still have one glaring weakness that might not seem like a big deal but could be when all is said and done: punter.
“I’m a little bit concerned we’ve got to figure some things out probably in the punting situation,” Fickell said after the final spring practice. “I know it’s a tougher time, but we don’t get outside nearly as much to see those guys have an opportunity to punt the ball and for us to return it as well.”
Wisconsin Badgers In-House Punting Candidates
Wisconsin football was blessed with the leg of weightlifting freak Andy Vujnovich for the past three seasons, finishing with the highest punting average in program history (44.3 yards per attempt).
But there was quite literally nothing behind him waiting in the wings.
During spring ball, the No. 1 punter was Neenah, Wisconsin, native Jack Van Dyke, who has served as a kickoff specialist during his career at UW. He was considered a five-star kicker/punter by Kohl’s Kicking (it seems like every special teamer is) and also won the Kevin Stemke Award given to the state’s top senior kicker or punter as a senior in high school.
Behind him was Gavin Meyers, a redshirt junior from Oshkosh who Ranked No. 18 in the nation among 2020 punters by Kohl’s Kicking. During his time with the Wisconsin football team, he served primarily as a holder.
Does Wisconsin Football Need to Add a Punter this Offseason?
Although punter doesn’t seem like a position to be concerned about, I’d like to reference former Wisconsin football punter Anthony Lotti as my only supporting evidence that they do, in fact, matter.
Reports from spring practice indicated that Van Dyke showed good leg strength and hangtime to hold down the role. However, he was wildly inconsistent–which isn’t what you want from core special teams players.
Meyers reportedly showed more consistency in his attempts but doesn’t possess the same type of leg strength that you’d prefer from the position and, overall, didn’t really impress.
Head coach Luke Fickell is actively involved in special teams units, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see him actively exploring options in the portal this offseason. The downside to this conundrum is that, given the scholarship situation, it would be hard to justify giving a punter a full ride.
The lack of a serviceable punter is arguably the biggest roster hole the Wisconsin football program faces right now and is one most Badgers fans would like to see shored up between now and fall camp.
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