Arizona Punter Aiming for August Decision

Punters rarely receive coast-to-coast recruiting attention, but Glendale (Ariz.) Mountain Ridge standout Jeff Locke has an impressive list of offers to boast about. Where do the Sun Devils fit in his recruiting picture? Do the maroon and gold have an edge being close to home? We sat down with Locke to get answers to those questions and more.

"I've been talking to (ASU licker) Thomas Weber and (ASU punter) Jonathan Johnson a little bit, and they told me how much they like the program and how much the team emphasizes special teams," said the 6-1 185 Jeff Locke. "I've been talking to (ASU Tight Ends Coach) Coach Cozzetto for a while, and being local I know a lot about the school. My kicking coach is a big fan and he's pushing me to go there."

Arizona State has already hosted the punter during their junior day event in the spring, and at their team camp last month. "Junior day was the first time I got to see the facilities," Locke stated. "I've been to a lot of schools and ASU's facilities are top-notch and good as any school. A few days after the camp, my dad and I toured the facilities again, and we met with Coach Erickson. I really think Coach Erickson will turn this program around."

Locke attended the Nebraska and Stanford kicking camps, and aside from those two schools, he has tenders from Arizona State, North Carolina, Colorado State, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, UCLA, Washington State, San Diego State and Wisconsin. Locke realizes that punters usually don't garner this type of recruiting attention, and is humbled by it. "I'm trying to keep level-headed," he admitted. "Even though people hype me up that much, I know I have to work as hard as any other player out there. I never expected all this (recruiting attention) to happen."

Locke was named 1st team all-region as both a kicker and punter last year. He averaged 43.3 yards per punt, was 7/11 with a long of 43 yards on field goals, converted 33 out of 40 kick offs for touchbacks and was a perfect 13/13 on PATs. He said he was indifferent as to having a preference of which position to play at the next level.

"I'm a better punter than I am a kicker," he commented. "I think all the schools like my hang time, and I think that my hang time is a lot better than a lot of the high school punters out there. I do need to improve on my consistency. In kicking I just need to get used to kicking a different size ball and also be consistent. When I do my workouts I have both high school and college football size footballs."

Schools recruiting him haven't been uniformed on this topic as well. "Georgia Tech wants me to punt and kick, but pretty much everyone else says they want me a punter," Locke remarked, "and some said they'll decide where to play me once I come to their school." Speaking of Georgia Tech, Arizona's best high school quarterback Sean Renfree (whom Locke never met in person), who verbaled to Georgia Tech a few weeks ago, has been making his recruiting pitch to Locke to join him as a member of the Yellow Jackets.

Another aspect of his recruiting that Locke is neutral about is the proximity to home. "My dad has been in the military my whole life, so I'm used to traveling," he noted. "But it would be pretty cool to stay close to home and play in front of your family and all my friends I grew up with. So distance probably won't be a factor when I commit."

ASU, San Diego State, Stanford, Nebraska, Wisconsin, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia Tech have all received unofficial visits from the punter. Locke has scheduled just one more trip, with a decision to follow some three weeks later.

"I'm gonna unofficially visit UCLA on July 26th and that will be my last (unofficial) visit," he said. "Then I'm gonna sit down, think about it, and commit in mid-august. I don't want recruiting to interfere with my senior season, so that's why I'm deciding before the season…my commitment is gonna be solid, and I won't take any official visits in the fall." He added that won't be trimming his long list of suitors to a top-three or a top-five list before he verbals.

Strength of program and academics will guide Locke's decision as to where to commit, "I'll know when it's right to make my decision," he said.

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