As Nebraska moves into its second season in the Big Ten Conference, HuskerOnline.com will get you ready with ranking analysis pieces breaking down each position in the league. Today, we look at the punter position in the Big Ten heading into 2012.
1. Brett Maher, Nebraska, 6-0, 185, Sr.
After Alex Henery dazzled the Memorial Stadium faithful with his punting over the past few seasons, a drop-off was expected last year. But no one told Brett Maher. The kicker/punter did his best Henery interpretation, being named to the all-conference first team by both the coaches and the media. He averaged 44.5 yards per kick and placed 25 punts inside the 20-yard line. Only three of his boots resulted in touchbacks.
2. Ben Buchanan, Ohio State, 5-11, 190, Sr.
Ben Buchanan was one of the Big Ten's busiest punters, as his 70 boots were the most by a Buckeye in seven years. But when he did kick it, the opposition rarely got much yardage. Fewer than one-third of Buchanan's punts were returned, and opponents gained an average of just 5.2 yards when they tried. The senior ranked third nationally with 13 punts downed inside the 10-yard line. In his career, 86 of his 118 punts have been either fair caught or downed inside the 20-yard line.
3. Cody Webster, Purdue, 6-1, 205, Jr.
After splitting the duties with Carson Wigg last season, Cody Webster has the job all to himself this year. Last season, he proved to be a master at keeping the ball out of the end zone. He didn't have a single touchback all season, but also placed just 11 kicks inside the 20. He was second in the Big Ten behind Maher with an average of 42.9 yards per boot. Webster managed to last the entire season without having a punt blocked.
4. Anthony Fera, Penn State, 6-2, 220, Jr.
Another kicker/punter combo, Anthony Fera returned from a suspension early last season and displayed one of the conference's stronger legs in 2011. The junior averaged 42 yards per punt last year and had 12 punts of 50 yards or more. Though Fera did drop 18 kicks inside the 20-yard line, he could use a bit more touch, as he had 12 touchbacks. His real value to Penn State may be in the kicking department, as he converted 14 of his 17 field goal attempts last season.
5. Mike Sadler, Michigan State, 6-0, 183, Soph.
Mike Sadler didn't display the most power in his redshirt freshman season, but proved himself to be one of the league's more accurate punters. He placed 25 of his 61 punts inside the 20-yard line, including 11 inside the 10. While he did have six punts of 50 yards or more, he averaged just 41.1 yards per kick, good for seventh in the conference. His best performance came against Iowa, when he was honored as the Big Ten Freshman of the Week.