MADISON – Even for a specialist, it’s not easy to step into the starting role in college football, let alone the Big Ten. Punter Anthony Lotti is experiencing those challenges first hand.
Taking over the starting punting job in week two, Lotti has kicked a team-high 14 punts. While his kicking distance has struggled, Lotti has been reliable when it comes to pinning opponents deep in their own territory, dropping six kicks into the 20 and a handful just outside the goal line. The fact that Lotti earned an early opportunity is not a surprise.
A first-team All-American as a senior, Lotti averaged 45.4 yards on 49 punts, including 19 placed inside the 20-yard line and 15 of 50-plus yards. He was heavily recruited by Wisconsin, who was looking to add an elite-level punter to replace graduating senior Drew Meyer. The only punter the Badgers offered during the recruiting cycle, Lotti outshined every player at UW’s specialist camp and didn't wait long to commit in early July 2015.
Asking 15 questions, we call this segment the Freshman Fifteen.
What’s been the hardest part for you adjusting to college life?
Lotti: Definitely just keeping up with everything. There’s so many things with school and football going on, just remembering that I have an assignment due soon, stuff like that. Mainly just scheduling.
What’s been the hardest part adjusting to college football?
Lotti: The fans are really cool. I got a taste of that and it was just an awesome experience to see all the fans in the stands. Definitely the football players. It’s a different group of guys up here. It’s fun to watch them mess around with each other. It’s just a great atmosphere.
How did you prepare your body before coming to college so you would be able to step right in and start competing?
Lotti: I definitely tried to put on more weight, just because there’s a different air up here than there is in Georgia. You have to drive the ball up there a little harder, so I put on five pounds. Luckily they were a good five pounds. I haven’t got fat yet. I tried to put more mass behind the ball.
What do you think your strengths are right now where you can help this team and what your biggest areas of weaknesses?
Lotti: My best strengths would probably be consistency and downing the ball inside the 10. That’s where I’m really proud of. Things I’m trying to work on is hang time, especially with the returners we have coming up.
How is Madison different than your hometown of Flowery Branch, GA?
Lotti: It’s definitely a lot warmer down there right now. That’s the main change for me right now. Usually I’m still in shorts and a t-shirt and maybe even going outside on the lake. That’s the main thing, but it’s so nice up here it’s ridiculous.
Do you have any idea what you want to study in college?
Lotti: I was thinking education but it could change tomorrow. I have no idea.
What’s your favorite place on the Madison campus?
Lotti: It’d have to be the Terrace. I love going there all the time. It’s pretty all the time. Even when it’s raining outside it’s still a beautiful place.
What’s your least favorite place on campus?
Lotti: Probably the libraries because I hate studying. It’s always just a bad time.
What do you enjoy doing most in your free time when you get the chance to kick back and relax?
Lotti: I just love hanging out with the guys on the team, especially the freshmen guys that I’ve been with this whole team. We’re always hanging out in dorms, watching movies and whatnot. We got (the video game) Rock Band a couple weeks ago, so we’re bringing that back and just jamming.
Who are you living with this fall?
Lotti: This fall I’m with Jack Popp, a wide receiver. I love Jack.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learn about Jack?
Lotti: He’s probably a lot funnier than I thought he be. Out of nowhere I asked him if he wanted to room together, kind of winging it and we got together and it was awesome. He’s usually the drummer or the soloist (in Rock Band). He’s a pretty talented dude.
Where does your biggest support come from?
Lotti: Definitely my dad and my uncle and my mom. My uncle has been with me on every recruiting trip and tries to come to every game. My dad has been to every game, has been my coach forever. My dad’s the huge one. My mom just showing love all the time. You can’t beat my mom.
What’s your parents’ reaction to you playing college football here, being on your own for the first time and starting your journey at this school?
Lotti: It’s always been their dream to see me out there, running out of the tunnel on to the field. My dad is excited all the time, almost coming down to tears. My mom is always happy to see me, so that’s always great.
From all of your scholarship offers, what made Wisconsin stand out from everyone else?
Lotti: My dad always told me since I was little ‘go where you’re wanted.’ I really felt like I was wanted here. Everyone was beyond nice and all the coaches seemed really invested in me, which I liked a lot.
What it’s like to put on the Wisconsin jersey every day, run out of the tunnel in front of 80,000 fans and be a part of this program on a daily basis?
Lotti: Every time we take the bus here to Camp Randall I get chills just pulling in, seeing everyone wave outside and there’s nothing like running out of that tunnel into Camp Randall. It’s just a ridiculous feeling, especially doing it with the guys I’m out here practicing with all day every day.