Phillips and Nord pleased with signing Foster

Kentucky assistant Greg Nord pleased with the signing of Landon Foster, a punter who can make it rain.

When Tennessee kicker Landon Foster came to Kentucky's summer camp, UK special teams coach Greg Nord noticed him right away.

"I?think the way he handled the pressure in camp really stood out. The first thing I was looking at was there was a guy punting the ball better than everybody else and looks and sounds like a big-time punter," said Nord. "Then he handled the pressure pretty well. You would go do little things to try and put pressure on him or bring a guy over and say, ‘Hey, let's see which one of you two guys can punt better.' Just see how he would rise up to the competition. Then you find out the tremendous success his family has and he has and how well he's thought of in the school. He's a guy you want in your program.

"Coach (Jerry) Claiborne kind of instilled in (UK?coach) Joker (Phillips) and I as young coaches, and Joker has carried it into his program and I believed it all along, that one of the top things you better do is recognize a winner. Certainly you have to start off by finding guys that are good enough to win, but there is something about a winner that can put you over the top."

Foster was a first-team kicker by the Tennessee Sports Writers' Association. He made 11 of 16 field goals as a senior with a long of 49 yards and averaged 41.3 yards per punt. He also had 50 of his 56 kickoffs go for touchbacks, and four of the six that did not were onside kicks.

He was rated the No. 8 kicker in the nation by and No. 10 overall prospect in the state of Tennessee by SuperPrep. Like former UK?punter Tim Masthay, who is now with the Green Bay Packers, Foster also played soccer.

Phillips said Nord told him that Foster could "make it rain" with his punting.

"You know an SEC punter when you hear him, you know an SEC kicker when you — you don't have to see it, you can close your eyes and walk past and it's going to sound different than a pee-wee punter," Phillips said. "This guy is an SEC punter. High character kid, intelligent, right look in his eyes. Room lights up when he comes in."

UK has had a series of talented punters — Glenn?Pakulak, Masthay and Ryan Tydlacka — in recent years and Nord hopes Foster can be another one.

"He has a lot of work to do to be mentioned in the breath of those guys. But Tydlacka did as a young guy being measured against Masthay and I am sure Tim did being measured against some former kickers because we have had some good ones here," Nord said. "I hope he can compete or even win a job as a freshman because that would mean he is really as good as we thought if he beats out some of the guys we have here. If not, then it will make the other guys here play as well as they can play. Competition is one thing that makes everyone better.

"He has done some kickoffs and kicked some field goals. We are going to start him off and use him exclusively punting, but as he gets older, he will be trained like all our guys are. Tydlacka was trained to be a kickoff/PAT backup. Same thing with Joe Mansour and Craig McIntosh."

McIntosh returns as UK's field goal kicker while Mansour handled kickoffs. However, Mansour came into the program highly-touted as a kicker but has been used only on kickoffs his first two seasons.

"Joe is getting bigger. He is maturing and learning how to handle big-time college football," Nord said. "A lot was placed on that young guy's shoulders coming in as recognized as he was and he was forced into a position of being the guy so to speak and that's a lot for a young guy to handle. That's one thing that Landon will have to do is handle those early expectations and weather the storm of being a rookie, which is not as easy as everyone thinks."

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