Top Punter Chooses To Join Teammates At Auburn

One of the top punters and kickoff men in the nation will be an Auburn Tiger.

Brentwood, Tenn.--Adding to the commitment of one of the top kickers in the South a few weeks ago in John Vaughn, the Auburn Tigers added perhaps the top punter and kickoff man in the region in Kody Bliss from Brentwood Academy.

What makes this story intriguing is that the two were teammates and form the best kicking combination you can find on the high school level. Bliss says that the bond they have formed was just too strong to pass up on the collegiate level and that is the main reason he chose to become a Tiger.

"I wanted to go to a place I would feel comfortable being at for four years," Bliss tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "When John committed I sat down the next day and thought about it. I figured that I have two former teammates (Taylor Bourgeois, Jake Slaughter) already at Auburn plus John. If I go there I'll be doing the same thing I've been doing for four years, which is going to be good. There won't be much of a change. I'm excited about it. I'm kind of ready for it to start, but we have to wait about a year."

Blessed with an extremely strong leg, the 5-11, 170 Bliss was a lethal weapon for Brentwood Academy this season in the punting game. Averaging 47 yards per punt this season on 33 attempts, he was instant field position for his team. With a net average of 44 yards with nine punts downed inside the 20-yard line and four downed inside the five, he says that he had a chance to pooch punt more this season because of a good offense and that will be important for him in the future.

"I kind of had to specialize in that this year because our offense was clicking better than last year," Bliss says of pinning opponents deep. "A lot of the time when I was punting we were snapping the ball from the 50 or somewhere around in there. I had to put it up higher so we could get down there and cover it."

Also the kickoff man and extra long field goal kicker with Vaughn handling the field goals and extra points, Bliss didn't attempt a field goal this season. While he didn't know his kickoff stats as a senior, he put 54 of 60 kicks into the end zone as a junior for a better than 90 percent rate of touchbacks. He has a career long field goal of 61 yards, which he kicked as a junior. Bliss averaged 52 yards per punt that season.

A hot commodity in the recruiting game, Bliss had offers from schools all over the country, but considered Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Texas before deciding on the Tigers. "Those were the schools that had been after me the longest. At the beginning of everything it's kind of cool having everyone call you and send you letters and everything. After a while it kind of gets a little old--it starts to take up too much time. It just felt right going to Auburn and I just went ahead and did it."

Bliss attended mini-camps at Tennessee, Texas and Florida over the summer, but says that Auburn has been the school he's liked from the beginning. Watching intently and keeping an eye on the depth chart on the Plains, he hopes to come in and challenge immediately for the punting job with Michael Gibson his only competition.

"I think I'll probably come down a couple of weeks every now and this summer to work with their guys," Bliss says of his plays before two-a-days. "I'm just going to try to get as good as I can before the season starts. I'm the only punter that I know of on scholarship down there so it makes things look good down there. I think I'll have a good chance to come in and kick early."

A final selling point for Bliss occurred Saturday in Auburn's big win over archrival Alabama. The 17-7 victory with young players manning several key spots showed Bliss what the Auburn coaching staff has been telling him is true.

"They've been telling me since they've been recruiting me that this year wasn't their year," Bliss notes. "Their year is going to be next year and the year after. I'm looking forward to being a part of that."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Bliss also participates in wrestling and soccer for Brentwood Academy. A broken collarbone cut short his junior season in wrestling, but he has been a three-year starter as a sweeper for the soccer team. He was a four-year starter at punter and as the kickoff specialist.

Bliss joins Vaughn, Josh Thompson, Jason Jude, Carl Stewart, Cole Bennett, Bruce Edwards, Viciente DeLoach, Lloyd Blevins, Brandon Jacobs and Tony McClain among Auburn's verbal commitments.


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