Christy earns trust with leg

Kyle Christy has become a weapon in Gainesville. The sophomore punter went through an inconsistent season in 2011, but he has broken out while leading the SEC with an average of 46.5 yards in 24 punts this season. He dominated field position in the first half of the LSU game before the offense turned it on, but Christy's punting career is only in its fourth year.

He served as the kicker only for his Brownsburg (Ind.) High School team as a sophomore. Christy enjoyed the role, but when the punter graduated after that season, the head coach thought it would be a good idea to give Christy a shot at punting duties.

There wasn't much of an option given.

"We're going to need you to punt next year," Kyle Christy recalled the coach telling him. "I worked with a lot of coaches and watched a lot of film and taught myself how to punt."

He grew up playing soccer and football, serving as the kicker only, but the push from his coach put him in position to succeed.

Christy started to travel, improving his form and timing at punting camps. He made a trip to LSU at the beginning of the summer before his senior season. The goal was to continue finding tips and ways to improve his punts. What came was something he didn't expect.

He received a scholarship offer from the Tigers. After that happened, Christy cancelled trips to smaller schools that he wouldn't choose over LSU, but there was still one trip remaining.

He showed up at Florida's camp when Urban Meyer was still the head coach and worked out for Meyer and special teams coach D.J. Durkin. One week after leaving, the Gators called with a scholarship offer. Christy committed soon after.

He came to Gainesville and served as the backup to senior punter David Lerner. Christy's reputation of a strong leg followed him to Gainesville, where he was expected to take over for four-year starter Chas Henry. That didn't happen immediately. Will Muschamp spoke of operational issues that kept Christy off the field.

"I kind of struggled with operation time last year," Christy said. "I was a little slow with my hands, and Coach Durkin and Coach Muschamp were always getting on me about it. During the offseason, I worked a lot on it."

The improvements showed. He spent the offseason catching snap-after-snap off the JUGGS machine to improve his consistency. Christy also changed his drop. As a freshman, he held the ball with his hands on the side of it. Now, Christy puts his right hand below the ball before the drop, offering a more consistent drop to his foot. The time Gators target 2.0-2.1 seconds between the start of the snap and the ball leaving Christy's foot, and he's close to that target range now.

Five games into the Florida season, the sophomore is a weapon.

"I definitely get in a zone," Christy said of his recent success. "It's great when it happens during games, especially like Saturday. But sometimes you obviously get in a funk. And then you kind of try to just stop punting and relax for a while."

Christy leads the SEC with an average of 46.5 yards per punt. On seven punts against LSU, he averaged 49.1 yards with a long of 61. He dropped three of his punts inside the 20-yard line, and had one more that should have been stopped by the special teams unit but wasn't.

His consistency is helping the offense, too. If the can't move the ball early in the game, Christy is there to still flip field position.

"He's in the back of our mind," Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. "The other day (against LSU), when it's 3rd and 17, I said, 'Hey, let's get 5-8 yards and let him flip the field.' He's a weapon. I'm totally aware of him."


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