UK Football: Punting job is Landon Foster's to lose
Kentucky freshman Landon Foster has been expected to be UK's punter this season from the moment he signed with the Wildcats. (Katie Decker / August 23, 2012)
The freshman from Tennessee was rated as one of the to 12 kickers in the nation by two scouting services, and was the No. 10 prospect in the state of Tennessee by SuperPrep.
But Foster did not take anything for granted, knowing he had to earn his spot just like everyone else.
“I’m not expecting anything. Just coming into compete really,” said Foster, who is competing with junior Joe Mansour for the punting duties. “The competition, I believe, is great for everyone. I hope to win the starting job. That’s something everyone wants to do, everyone comes here to play.”
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said that Foster gets off punts “as fast as we’ve ever had” at UK.
And after a stellar prep career, Foster likes his chances to see the feld immediately even though Phillips has yet to specifically name him the starter when the Cats play at Sept. 2 at Louisville.
The all-state kicker averaged 41.3 yards per punt, hit 11 of 16 field goals and 50 of his 56 kickoffs went for touchbacks with four others being onsides kicks. He was named his team’s most valuable player and was named to Tennesseean’s “Dream Team” all-classes football team.
Foster believes he and a lot of his freshmen teammates can play this year.
“All the freshmen, we all feel we’ve got the opportunity to play. That’s what (coaches) told us,” Foster said on Media Day when true freshmen were available to the media. “We’re not like any other school where you come in and they say, ‘We’re going to put you fifth on the depth chart.’ They say, ‘We got you for a reason, we think you can play now.’ That’s great knowing that’s how they feel.”
Foster said he was named all-state as a punter and kicker, but for now he would just focus on punting since UK has senior Craig McIntosh for placekicking duties.
“Coach Phillips said on my in-home visit to just focus on punting, we really need that now,” he said. “And after that, we’ll see.”
Foster is also facing the challenge of following punters Tim Masthay and Ryan Tydlacka. Foster said he has had a chance to work with both former players.
“Ryan was my host for my official visit, and Tim came back when I camped here my second time. They’re great guys who have had huge success as a punter,” Foster said. “When I committed, everyone said, ‘Welcome to Punter U.’ It’s a nice feeling that people here understand the importance and the role of good special teams.
Masthay is with Green Bay, and Tydlacka is a free agent after getting cut by Philadelphia last month. Foster said both players came back during the offseason and talked to him about not just punting, but school, life and how to handle college.
But he did get a lot of good advice on his punting as well from the two.
“You pick up a lot of things. You help them, they help you,” he said. “When you’re punting by yourself, you can only feel so much. You’ve learned to teach yourself, really. But to have another guy there to look at you and work with you is great. They came back in the offseason and punted, and we helped each other. It was great.”