It's 'Athlete'/punter Johnny Ayers (6-1, 175 lbs., 3.7 GPA) from Vienna, Vir. (a suburb of D.C.), James Madison ... the Warhawks! We talked to his head coach, James Madison Head Coach Gordon Lieb, this (Friday) afternoon.
Ayers was his team's starting quarterback (and safety) this past season, leading the Madison Warhawks to a 9-3 record and a berth in the Division 5 (next to largest largest class) state semifinals.
Coach Gordon Lieb told us, "Ayers is visiting Michigan next weekend (Jan. 23). They have said they might have a scholarship for him this year depending on how things turn out numbers-wise for them, but for sure for next year."
"John has also made an official visit to Boston College, and he has visited Virginia Tech unofficially."
Michigan is recruiting him as a kicker of course, and Coach Lieb said, "He's a punter. He averaged 42 yards a punt for us this year, on 45 punts. He kicks it high -- our opponents averaged 3.2 yards in returns. He also kicked 16 punts inside the 20, and 8 inside the 10."
In the state semifinals game (which Madison lost 17-16) Ayers booted field goals of 35 and 42 yards, and he also had a 58-yard punt in the game. As a quarterback he only threw three passes and completed two, one for 40 yards. And as a safety he made the big hit that put the opposing quarterback out of the game. Coach Lieb remembers that game well: "Late in the game we scored and Ayers was kicking off when he saw the other team drop back and he laid down an onside kick that we recovered ... we ended up one play short at the end."
Ayers is also star guard on the basketball team. Foot and shoulder injuries from football prevented him from playing basketball until just recently, but in his third game (last night, Jan. 15) he scored 20 points, and had 10 rebounds, eight assists, three steals and a blocked shot.
Coach Lieb made no bones about Ayers: "He's the best all-around athlete in the school. He also plays baseball -- he was all-region as a shortstop-third baseman. We were state champs in baseball a year ago."
But Lieb says his college future is as a kicker: "He wants to punt in college. If baseball helps him get a scholarship, then that's fine. But he'll be a punter in college."
Coach Lieb finished with a fond memory: "Ayers is just an 'athlete' -- here's a good example. We were playing last year's Divions 6 (largest classification) state champs this year, and Johnny was back to punt. The snapper snaps it over his head -- and Johnny ran back and scooped up the ball and kicked it with his LEFT (oppposite) foot to avoid the rush -- and he nailed a 60-yarder!"
Note: Ayers would be an added 'plus' for the Wolverines in that he could possibly play some quarterback in spring drills, etc. As well as on fakes of course!
New Wolverine Recruit - a Punter!
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