Another Freshman Earns Starting Nod

Ryan Shoemaker discusses Eddie Gran's decision to make him the number one punter.

Auburn, Ala.--Special teams coordinator Eddie Gran announced on Sunday that Ryan Shoemaker, a redshirt freshman from Oak Mountain High School, will be the punter for the Tigers against Kansas State on Sept. 1.

Shoemaker, the only scholarship punter on the roster, beat out walk-on freshman Patrick Tatum of Sylvania, Ala. He also held off a charge from Wes Byrum, who got a look at punter while Shoemaker was sidelined with a strained groin.

"His average was better, his operation time and his hang middles--we charted those and those type of situations--his were better," Gran says. "The decision, I am not going to say was easy, but it all presented itself with the numbers."

Shoemaker missed a week of camp, but came back on Tuesday and won the job. He says he got a text message from Gran at 11 a.m. telling him that he would handle the punting duties.

"It feels awesome," Shoemaker says of the announcement. "Coming off that injury it's been a long road. It felt like a long week. But the guys in the training room did a heck of a job getting me through countless hours of rehab every day. I went back out there and hit the ball really well. I'm looking forward to the challenge. I can't wait."

He adds that he's already back to 100 percent.

"I didn't think it was that bad at first, but they held me out of practice for a few days and I started getting worried a little bit. Overall, it was, `When can I get back? When can I get back?' We stayed in that training room for hours doing rehab."

The job will be open for competition if there is another injury or a lack of production, but Shoemaker will be working with the ones as the Tigers attempt to fine tune the special teams in the next two weeks.

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