Weber Excels in Double Duty

How do you follow up a Lou Groza Award season? Winning the Ray Guy Award would be quite the encore. For now, ASU kicker Thomas Weber is on the watch list for the later award, but nonetheless it is a testament to sophomore's work ethic to bring up his punting skills up to par to his formidable kicking abilities.

"I was surprised hearing that," said Weber of his latest honor. "It's a great feeling to be nominated for that and be recognized."

Due of the struggles of last year's punter, Jonathan Johnson, Weber was launched into duty as the Sun Devils' punter in the sixth game of the 2007 season. By the end of that year, he averaged 39.2 yards per punt and downed 11 of his 47 punts inside the 20.

Going into the 2008 campaign, the ASU staff would have preferred to have the sophomore go back and re-assume kicking only duties. Yet, none of the team's punters was able to emerge and top Weber in spring or fall practice. Therefore, Weber was regulated to the same role he had at the end of last season.

"It did help prepare for the season knowing that I was gonna probably punt again this year," Weber stated. "Coaches said that they wanted me to continue working on punting until they could find someone. I would never wanna go in there unprepared and hurt the team, so I worked hard on my punting and that helped me this year."

Weber also excelled in the team's offseason strength and conditioning program and earned ASU's Hard Hat player award.

En route to his 2007 Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's best kicker, Weber made 24 out of 25 field goals and registered 118 points to put him among the school's all-time single-season leaders in both categories. Weber, who was also named a First-Team AP All-American, set a school record by making 17 consecutive field goals.

The numbers obviously bear out the fact that his punting role didn't adversely affect his kicking. "I did punt before in high school, so it wasn't like this was new to me," he explained. "Punting and kicking keeps you active all game, keeps your leg warm. If anything it can help you. You're not just sitting on the sidelines waiting for something to happen."

This year Weber has made seven of his eight field goal attempts (he ranks third in the Pac-10 in scoring with 31 points), with his lone miss coming in a form of a blocked kick – which gave UNLV a shocking upset over ASU last Saturday.

"It was the worst feeling in the world," he recalled. "Knowing that we lost and that if the kick was good we would go to another overtime and have a chance to win... It was a bad feeling for the entire team. We all we're in shock and that's definitely not a feeling that we wanna have again."

His solid kicking numbers this year complement his improved punting. After three games and 11 punts the sophomore ranks fourth in the Pacific-10 Conference with an average of 42.5 yards per punt.

"I feel good about my punting, and in the kicking we have a new snapper (Thomas Ohmart) and holder (Danny Sullivan) and it's been working great so far. It's becoming a smooth routine. That always helps you kick well."

Weber admitted that coming into last year, his first ever season of college football, he certainly didn't know what to expect from himself. It would be a gross understatement to state that the 2007 season was a validation of his abilities, which helps his confidence yet doesn't stop him from being humble.

"It didn't faze me too much that coming into this year some publications didn't have me as the All-American pre-season kicker," he noted. "It's just a pre-season list based on people's opinions of what they think other kickers will do. Everybody has their own perception. I know a lot of the kickers on those lists and they're good. I didn't feel that I was thrown under the bus or anything like that. I guess I have something to work for now."

When asked if it's impossible to follow up such a remarkable season, Weber replied: "I don't think too much about it, I just wanna help put points on the board. I want to take advantage of every opportunity. That's what Coach Erickson tells us all the time."

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