Boone Booming Them For Lions

Penn State's new punter chalks up his early success to lessons learned from his predecessor, four-year starter Jeremy Kapinos. The two still talk frequently.

After two years spent cooling his heels on the sideline, Jeremy Boone is starting to get his kicks at Penn State.

Boone has replaced his friend and mentor, Jeremy Kapinos, as the Nittany Lions' starting punter. Through two games, he is averaging a robust 45.1 yards on 11 attempts. He's also serving as the holder for his roommate, kicker Kevin Kelly, on placements.

Though his first career punt — a 36-yard touchback against Florida International — was a long time coming, Boone has enjoyed his entire tenure at University Park.

“It's been a joyride ever since I came in here and started working with Kapinos,” said the redshirt sophomore from Mechanicsburg, Pa. “It's been a great experience each and every day. There's always something for me to work on.”

Boone was a three-sport athlete at Mechanicsburg Area High, shining in football, baseball and basketball. He played wide receiver and safety for the football team, and also punted after discovering his kicking skills as a soccer goalie. When it came time to pick a college, he thought about playing football at Delaware but ended up choosing Penn State after assistant coach Larry Johnson sold him on the Lions.

“The possibility of playing in a big-time atmosphere was something I couldn't really pass up,” Boone said.

He went on to redshirt as a freshman and backed up Kapinos last season, learning all he could from the four-year starter. This past August, Boone beat out freshman recruit Ryan Breen for the starting position.

The special teams have looked solid this season, except for a 47-yard punt return by Notre Dame's Tom Zbikowski that set up a field goal last week. Although Penn State ended up routing the Irish, Boone second guessed his work on that play.

“There were a couple of things I could have done differently,” he said. “I could have probably put it more toward the out-of-bounds area so that he would have had no choice but to catch it and run out of bounds. That would have been my ideal punt. I could have done a little bit better getting it up in the air a little longer and giving my guys more of an opportunity to get down there.”

Boone said college punting differs from high school punting in that the emphasis is on hang time, not distance. He said Johnson wants him to average about 41 yards with a 4.8-second hang time. “Anything after that is a plus,” Boone said.

Because the 5-foot-9, 183-pound Boone is smaller than Kapinos, he has to use a higher drop in order to generate velocity and kick the ball harder. Johnson is always urging him in practice to keep his drops chest-high.

Boone also said he talks to Kapinos two or three times a week. The former Nittany Lion punter usually sends him an encouraging text message before every game.

“It's really nice because he's helped me out so much,” Boone said. “It's nice to have that kind of relationship.”

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