Theres a saying: Chicks dig the long ball. If you can put up 50 yards a punt or something, people think thats really good, Kapinos said Tuesday.
That being the case, Kapinos must have been quite popular with the ladies during his first two seasons. He set a Penn State freshman record with his 41.9-yard average in 2003. And last year, he averaged 41.8 yards despite punting 51 times in Penn States eight Big Ten games, the most attempts of any conference punter.
In this years season opener against South Florida, Kapinos again demonstrated his strong leg with a 42.2-yard average on five attempts, including a 60-yarder, the third-longest kick of his career. But he showed something else, demonstrating great finesse in pinning the Bulls inside their 15-yard line on three occasions. For his efforts, he was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week, the second time in his career he has won the award.
Kapinos, who gave up soccer to specialize in punting at West Springfield (Va.) High, has been working to improve his hang time. Though the emphasis on height requires him to sacrifice some distance on occasion, the tradeoff makes it worthwhile. By putting more air under the ball, Penn States coverage team has a better chance to get in position and prevent long returns. For proof, look no further than the Nittany Lions 23-13 victory over South Florida. Of Penn States five punts in that game, the Bulls returned only one, gaining just 1 yard. For Kapinos — and for the Lions oft-criticized special teams — things could hardly have gone better.
I guess Ive put my ego away, the junior said. I dont need to kick the ball 55 yards anymore to prove that I can punt. A 45-yard kick with no return is just as good or better. I guess you could say Im feeling a little better in terms of that specific type of punting.
Kapinos might not be as busy this fall if the Lions improve on their poor offensive showings of the past two seasons. But even if they dont make dramatic strides — and their opener wasnt entirely encouraging — Kapinos said hes ready to perform.
Anytime I can go out there and punt, its a good thing for me, he said. Obviously you dont want to get too much work. But I dont think I ever really get tired.