Punter walking on at WSU, but how ‘bout those kickoff numbers?

PUNTER JOHAN ZETTERBERG, who recently announced he would walk on at Washington State, put up some good senior numbers at San Ramon Valley High in Danville, Calif. But as a kickoff specialist, they were even better.

Zetterberg (pictured above) is walking on at WSU as a big (6-2, 205) punter with a big leg – he booted 19 punts as a senior for 782 yards (41.2 avg) with a long of 50 hashes.  But he also figures to get a long look on kickoffs.

He averaged 68.7 yards per kickoff his senior season -- 53 of 58 (91 percent) of his boots resulted in touchbacks.

“WSU liked me as a punter because they saw a lot of potential to develop me,” Zetterberg told CF.C through direct message. “They are also looking to have me as a KO specialist too.”

Zetterberg, though, will have to prove his worth if he wants to contribute as a true freshman.  First, it’s not always about trying to kick it as far as you can to try and get the touchback -- Washington State was No. 42 in the nation in kickoff return defense last season (19.58 yards).  Second, Wazzu also has senior-to-be Erik Powell, who is well established as Wazzu’s starting field goal kicker and KO specialist.

Powell may also see more duty at punter this season.  Special teams coach Eric Mele doesn’t want to have Powell exclusively do three things – field goals, kickoffs and punts – and in turn see diminishing returns in the latter half of the season. But after Powell crushed seven late season punts last year and averaged 48.7 yards per boot, Mele also said you’re likely to see Powell in there more.

Wide receiver Kyle Sweet enters the spring as the Cougs’ starting punter.  Sweet punted 32 times for the Cougs last season, while Zach Charme had eight boots and Powell had seven. Charme has left the program but Mele thinks Tommy Park has what it takes to earn the job of WSU’s “traditional style” punter in 2017.

And that brings up another point: Mele likes having versatility in the punting game.  He can keep opponents guessing with a rugby style punt (Sweet); a traditional straight-ahead shot (Park) or he can even toss in a lefty (Powell).

Sweet’s rugby punts averaged 38.2 yards but that doesn't tell the whole story.  There’s also this: only 10 of 32 punts by Sweet were returned all season.

WSU also lists three other kickers on its spring roster: Mitchell Cox, a 6-0, 195-pound fifth-year senior; Brett Schafer, a 5-9 171-pound third-year sophomore and Jack Crane, a 6-2, 180-pound second-year freshman.

By the way, Zetterberg, who also competed in soccer in high school, will come to WSU as a traditional style punter and figures to compete with Park in fall ball in Mele’s three-pronged attack.

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