Punter Blake Gillikin is a four-star prospect and the nation’s third-ranked punter, and man do the Nittany Lions need him. Walk-ons have been holding down the position since NCAA sanctions hit in 2012. And while the non-scholarship guys deserve credit for helping PSU through the difficult times, the results (or lack thereof) speak for themselves.
Last season State ranked 102nd nationally in net punting (35.7 yards). The Lions ranked 106th (34.34) in 2014, 97th (35.38) in 2013 and 103rd (34.45) in 2012.
As a senior at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Gillikin averaged 45.2 yards on 41 punts. Net punting stats are not available. But that straight average is significantly better than either Daniel Pasquariello (39.9) or Chris Gulla (37.7) managed at PSU last fall. Nineteen of Gillikin’s punts were downed inside the 20. The Lions had 81 total punts last fall, and only 20 were downed inside the 20.
As an added bonus, if the PSU staff needs him to do it, Gillikin can also kick off. As a senior, 68 of his 83 kickoffs went for touchbacks.
Poor field position has been a consistent issue for Penn State the last few years, and the staff is hoping Gillikin can help swing things in the Nittany Lions’ favor.
See a Scout.com interview with Gillikin above.