Davis' Switch Back To Punting Not Difficult

FAYETTEVILLE -- Jeremy Davis took a trip to Jonesboro last summer. While there, he worked with former Arkansas punter Steve Cox. After a practice session that included both field goals and punts, Cox couldn't believe what he was watching.

Davis switched back-and-forth between kicks and punts, never confusing one action with the other. On field goals, Davis whipped his leg through the ball and around his body. On punts, he fired his leg straight up toward the sky.

That hadn't been the case with most of the other kicker-slash-punters Cox had seen.

"Ninety-nine percent of your soccer-style kickers will mess up their punts," Cox said. "But not Jeremy. He's one of the only soccer-style kickers I'd ever seen who could punt without bringing that leg across his body."

"I asked how he was able to master that, and all Jeremy told me was, 'I have worked my tail off on it.' Well, it shows."

No one has seen the payoff of Davis' persistence since 2004. The Fort Smith Southside graduate served as Arkansas' punter for the final six games of that season, but he redshirted the next season and didn't punt even once last season.

Now, though, Davis is the Razorbacks' undisputed No. 1 punter, and Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said Wednesday that Davis was one of the most impressive players of preseason camp thus far.

"He's getting better and better each day," Nutt said. "He's had his best year since he's been here. He's a tough guy, especially mentally."

That mental toughness came in handy late last season, and Davis fully expects to tap into it as this season progresses. Davis, a near-scratch golfer, credits that sport with shaping his ever-positive frame of mind.

"Golf's a lot like what I do," Davis said. "It's where I've gotten my mental instincts. In both sports, I just have to forget the bad ones and kick or hit the next one."

As Arkansas' placekicker last season, Davis had to forget plenty of kicks as the season came to an end. After converting on six of his first seven field-goal attempts, Davis missed six straight.

"It was tough. Real tough," Davis said. "But I learned from it."

That lesson? Fans won't see Davis tossing his helmet after a poor punt. They won't see him yelling at his long-snapper. They won't see him hanging his head.

They'll only see him return to the sideline and punt into a net. While there, Davis might remember some simple advice he's received from former UA punter Bruce Lahay since high school.

"He told me that when I'm struggling, I should just think, 'Ball over your right leg, head down and finish up like a ballerina,'" said Davis, who got married on July 21.

His ability to recall little nuggets of information like that has impressed every coach who has ever worked with Davis.

Arkansas special teams coach James Shibest said Davis' mental strength has helped him stay dead-even with freshman Alex Tejada for the starting placekicker job.

"His determination is what's keeping him in this battle to still be the field-goal kicker," Shibest said. "Regardless of that, he's been impressive with his punts. More hang-time, more distance. It's like he never stopped."

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