Meyer Providing A Big Boot

Appearing to have found its third consecutive four-year starter at punter, Wisconsin is hopeful redshirt sophomore Drew Meyer can continue keeping Wisconsin out of trouble.

MADISON - Contrary to popular belief, Drew Meyer's leg did not fall off at any point last season, although nobody would have been surprised if it did.

Meyer punted a whopping 80 times in 2012, including at least seven times in seven of Wisconsin's games, as he was pressed into duty early and often with Wisconsin's offense was in a state of flux.

Putting that number in perspective, Brad Nortman – the punter Meyer replaced – punted 84 times in his final two years combined.

But when the redshirt freshman wasn't icing his leg, Meyer kept Wisconsin in games by averaging 41.5 yards per punt, including putting 36 punts inside the 20-yard line, earning a consensus honorable mention all-conference selection.

"Overall I was happy with my performance on the year," said Meyer. "There's definitely a punt here or there every game that I would like to have back or improved the hang time or been better directionally. Overall I was happy, especially being a freshman."

Not surprisingly, Meyer limited his kicks in the offseason to rest his leg and didn't punt much outside during spring practices because of unfavorable weather conditions. That forced Meyer to work on his steps and technique indoors in the low-roofed McClain Center.

"It's hard to get a feel for your ball flight," said Meyer of working inside UW's practice facility. "You just have to trust the process and the drills you are doing."

But evening but stuck indoors hasn't dampened Meyer's excitement for the upcoming season, especially getting to work with special teams coach Jeff Genyk. The last hire by head coach Gary Andersen on his current staff, Genyk was a former punter and quarterback at Bowling Green from 1978-81, and has been working with Meyer to improve his hang time, stay rigid in his motion and his technique.

"He's been great," said Meyer of Genyk. "Just having that experience and what it's like to be a specialist, he's all about execution rather than result. He's about striving to be the best I can be every day and that's what I work at. You don't want to have a perfect day. Otherwise you could get complacent."

Although Wisconsin is under the mandatory 85 scholarship limit set by the NCAA, Meyer still remains a walk-on. Citing that tradition started by Barry Alvarez of rewarded walk-on players who work hard and contribute to the program, it's another reason why Meyer hasn't felt satisfied.

"It's something to keep in the back of your mind that you are working for every day," said Meyer. "At the same time, you just take care of your business one day at a time and things tend to take care of themselves."

While Wisconsin has been known for developing running backs, tight ends and offensive linemen, the Badgers have also been fortunate in the punting department. Wisconsin has had only three punters since 2004, all of whom have come from in-state.

Green Bay native Ken DeBauche finished his career at Wisconsin as one of the top punters in school history. A four-year starter, his 42.4-yard per punt average was second all-time in Wisconsin history while his 9,815 yards and 231 punts were good enough for third all-time.

Brookfield's Nortman – also a four-year starter – ranks third in school history with career punting average of 42.1 yards per punt before being drafted after the 2011 season by the Carolina Panthers in the sixth round.

Now it's Meyer's turn, as the Hartland native plans to have a bigger season with his leg for Wisconsin.

"It's a huge honor to be mentioned with those guys," said Meyer. "They are some of the best punters in school history. It's fun to be an in-state guy because all the in-state guys take pride in Wisconsin football. We all grew up watching them on Saturdays and it's fun to be out here taking in the environment."


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