Most punters are the most un-recognizable players on a football team, but after booming a pair of 62-yard punts junior Kevin Huber is starting to get some recognition.
Huber won the punting position in 2005 but struggled to find his consistency, averaging 33 yards per kick. He was eventually replaced by Brian Steel. In 2006 Huber punted just twice with an average of 50.5 yards a punt.
In the off-season, knowing the punting job was his to lose, Huber sought more consistency with his kicks and attended a camp this summer at Lehigh run by Pennsylvania high school coach Bob Renner who has worked with NFL players like Steve Weatherford of the Saints.
"He helped me with little things that I didn't know about and changed my form a little bit," Huber said.
One of the changes Huber cited were standing more upright when receiving the ball to help him kick through the ball better.
"Just little things that I would have never known about had I never had a true kicking coach," Huber said.
Huber also said being in a kicking camp with other punters was helpful because he got to measure himself against other punters around the country and possibly pick up hints from the other players.
In that camp Huber said he graded out as having one of the strongest legs of anyone there.
One of the drills Huber said they did at the camp was an NFL Combine type drill that works on directionally kicking the ball to both the corners by the end zone, something special teams coordinator Mike Elston said is important to the scheme they run, along with several other aspects besides simply having a strong leg.
"In our protection, and this isn't the case in everybody's, but you have to be able to place the ball," Elston said. "He's got to be able to kick it to the left, the right, he's got to be able to sometimes put it outside the hash or the numbers, he's got to be a pooch kicker and place it inside the 10 on a consistent basis and rugby-style punt for us."
Another way the Bearcats sought to help his consistency was by keeping on the same routine every day.
"Every single day that he warms up he does his preparation all the same," Elston said. "Game day is the same way, I allow him to do his thing, but it has to be the same everyday." The work put in during the summer has paid off for the Cincinnati native. Huber is averaging 49.6 yards per kick with eight punts falling inside the opponent's 20-yardline and only one blocked punt in 16 attempts.
Those numbers equal good field position for the UC defense, which has not gone unnoticed by Huber's teammates.
"We call him the 12th man on defense," junior Mike Mickens said after the Marshall game.
"Each and every week he has done something to impact our football game through his leg and changing field position," Brian Kelly said.
Often, punters and kickers aren't considered "real" football players but Huber played some receiver and quarterback in high school and says his response to being called not a "real" football player is "go punt a ball and I'll tell you how athletic you are."
However, none of those differences matter when Huber pins the other team deep in its own territory.
"They treat you like you're the man," Huber said.
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