Jeff Locke NFL bio

Get to know the Vikings' fifth-round draft choice, punter Jeff Locke.

Punter/Kickoff Specialist
University of California, Los Angeles Bruins
Glendale, Arizona
Mountain Ridge High School

While the national media has yet to recognize the talent and versatility that Locke possesses, those in the scouting industry have been very impressed with this rapidly rising star's tremendous performance in 2012. Locke has always been a steady punter and kickoff specialist, but last season, his kickoffs were responsible for opponents constantly being forced to generate long marches, as an incredible 76.4% of his attempts (68-of-89) resulted in touchbacks.

That made for a remarkable turnaround in that category for Locke, as he recorded just 55 touchbacks on his previous 175 attempts (31.43%) since taking over those duties as a freshman. His average distance on those kickoffs was 65.96 yards, one of the highest in the nation.

Still, it is his punting duties that have been Locke's "meal ticket," as he ranks second in school history for most punts (275), most yardage (12,163) and punting average (44.23). His punting yard average is also the fourth-best in Pac 12 Conference history. Among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision performers, he leads the nation in number of punts and yards gained punting, while placing ninth for career average.

Known for his towering punts that have allowed a mediocre coverage unit more than ample time to get down field and prevent the long gain, his net-yard average as a freshman (38.06) and sophomore (41.27) led the conference, as his 2010 mark also led the nation. During his senior season, he ranked second in the Pac-12 with a net average of 39.94 yards.

In addition to doing full-time duties as a punter and kickoff specialist, Locke also could fill in as a field goal and placement specialist on an emergency basis. As a junior, he was called on to handle some long-range three-pointers, booming 51 and 49-yarders vs. Texas.
Only 104-of-275 punts (37.82%) have been returned vs. Locke. If not for a breakdown in coverage during the 2011 Stanford game (Cardinal returned a punt 85 yards for a touch-down), the longest return vs. Locke would have been a 24-yarder during his freshman season.

Handling multi tasks is nothing new for Locke. During his four seasons as a member of the Mountain Ridge High School team, he lined up at wide receiver, punter and place-kicker. Even recruiting services were impressed with his versatility. ESPN rated him the best place-kicker in the nation and did likewise, only as a punter. ranked him third as a punter and second nationally for his kicking prowess.

As a senior, the All-American and All-State selection averaged 43.6 yards on 38 punts with 10 inside the 20-yard line. He had 47 touchbacks on 54 kickoffs, converted 29 of 32 extra point attempts and also made 11-of-20 field goals, including a long of 63 yards. He was named All-Region in soccer three times and was selected Region Player of the Year in that sport in 2007.

Locke enrolled at UCLA in 2008, red-shirting his first season at the university. During the course of five years at the school, his academic success led to him being named to the Athletic Director's Honor Roll nine times.

In his first varsity season, Locke was a semi-finalist for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation's best punter. He was named freshman All-American, All-Pac 10 Conference second-team and shared Tommy Prothro Award honors (outstanding special teams player). He averaged 43.63 yards on 70 punts, ranking second in the league, finishing with a 38.06-yard net average. He also had 20 touchbacks on 65 kickoffs for an average distance of 66.6 yards.

Locke ranked fourth in the nation with a 45.84-yard gross punt average as a sophomore, the second-best season mark by a Bruin. Nineteen of his 64 punts were downed inside the 20-yard line as he again captured Tommy Prothro Award honors. His net yard average of 41.27 was the best in the nation for 2010.

Locke would receive Tommy Prothro Award honors for a third consecutive season in 2011. His 44.34-yard gross average was the sixth-best in a season by a Bruin and ranked 12th nationally. He made 2-of-3 long distance field goal attempts, had 21 touchbacks on 61 kickoffs and made 6-of-9 extra point attempts.

Named team co-captain as a senior, he was named All-American honorable mention and All-Pac 12 Conference first-team. He punted 77 times for a 43.34-yard mark, as 22 of those attempts were for 50 yards or longer and he placed a career-best 34 boots inside the 20-yard line. He added 68 touchbacks on 89 kickoffs and finished with a 39.94-yard net average, the second-best in the league.

Locke ranks second in school history with 275 punts for 12,163 yards and a gross average of 44.23 yards, topped by only Aaron Perez (286 for 12,220 yards; 2005-08) and Kirk Wilson (44.57-yard average; 1956-58)…His average is the fourth-highest in Pac-12 Conference history…Had 26 touchbacks, 76 fair catches, 99 punts downed inside the 20-yard line, 70 kicks for 50 yards or longer and none blocked…Opponents returned 104 punts for 785 yards (7.55 avg) and one touchdown, as he finished with a 39.48-yard net average…Kicked off 264 times for 17,413 yards, an average distance of 65.96 yards, as 123 boots were ruled touchbacks and just two went out of bounds.

Locke ranked third in the league and 20th in the nation with a 43.34-yard gross average on 77 punts for 3,337 yards, as seven were ruled touchbacks, along with 36 fair catches, 34 that were downed inside the 20-yard line and 22 that went for distances of 50 yards or longer…Only sixteen punts were returned for 119 yards (7.44 avg), as his 39.94-yard net average was second in the conference and 13th nationally…68-of-89 kickoffs were ruled touchbacks, as they went for an average distance of 64.24 yards…Had one solo tackle and gained eight yards on a fake punt rushing attempt…Saw action in all fourteen games and handled the punting and kickoff duties...Served as a special teams co-captain...Semi-finalist for the Ray Guy Award as the nation's top punter...Named first-team All-Pac-12 Conference by the league coaches, Phil Steele and mention All-American pick by first-team all-conference academic team honors...Selected to play in the Senior Bowl college all-star game...Locke earned the Captains Award, the Jack R. Robinson Award for the Senior with the Highest Scholarship, the Paul I. Wellman Memorial Award for All-Around Excellence and the Kenneth S. Washington Award for Outstanding Senior of the Year on Special Teams at the annual team banquet...One of six senior student-athletes at UCLA to have been named to the Athletic Director's Honor Roll in each quarter of attendance...Presented with the Athletic Director's Academic Excellence Award.

Locke punted 64 times for 2,838 yards, as his gross average of 44.34 yards rank sixth on the school season-record chart…Had four touchbacks, eleven fair catches, 26 punts that were downed inside the 20-yard line and fifteen boots for 50 yards or longer…31 punts were returned for 283 yards (9.13 avg) and an 85-yard touchdown (vs. Stanford)…Kicked off 61 times with 21 touchbacks, averaging a distance of 66.33 yards with one kick going out of bounds…Ranked fifth in the Pac-12 and 12th in the nation in punt average...Named to the second-team All-Pac-12 academic team for the third straight season...Earned Tommy Prothro team award for Outstanding Special Teams Player...Kicked the first field goals of his career against Texas (51, 49 yards) and added a season-long 70-yard punt ... Had five kickoffs for touchbacks against Cal and booted seven punts for a 44.3 average, placing three inside the five-yard line...Put three of his punts inside the Arizona State 10-yard line...Kicked to a 45.2 average against USC, with three punts inside the 20 and two inside the 10-yard line...Punted four times for a 48.2 yard average at Oregon, with two inside the 20...Placed three kicks inside the Illinois 15-yard line in the bowl game...Had 21 kickoffs for touchbacks on the season...Selected UCLA's 2011-12 Male Student-Athlete of the Year.

Named to the Watch List for the 2010 Ray Guy Award, Locke led the Pac-10 Conference and ranked fourth in the NCAA with a 45.84-yard gross punting average, the second-best in Bruins history…Also led the nation in net punting (41.27)...Earned third-team All-American acclaim from and was the punter selected to the ESPN Academic All-District 8 team and the Pac-10 All-Academic first team...Selected second-team All-Pac-10 for second straight season...Fourteen kicks were touchbacks...At Cal, he averaged 48.3 yards on a career-high nine punts (435 yards was also a career-best)...Placed three punts inside the 20 and averaged 69.5 yards on two kickoffs...In the win over Oregon State, averaged 46.0 on four punts, two inside the 20...One of his kicks pinned the Beavers at their own two-yard line late in the game...At Washington, he matched his career high with nine punts and averaged 44.3 yards per kick...Averaged 47.2 yards on six punts versus USC, placing two inside the 20...Tri-winner of UCLA's Tommy Prothro Award for Outstanding Special Teams Player.

One of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award (the only freshman), presented to the nation's top punter...Selected second-team All-Pac-10 by the league's coaches...First-team Pac-10 All-Academic team selection...Named freshman All-American by College Football News...Second-team Frosh All-American pick by Phil Steele Publications...Named to The Sporting News All-Freshman team...Tri-winner of UCLA's Tommy Prothro Award for Outstanding Special Teams Player...Averaged 43.63 yards per kick which ranked 16th in NCAA, second in Pac-10...Placed 20 of his 70 kicks inside the 20-yard line and had 12 kicks of 50 yards or more...UCLA ranked 20th in NCAA, first in Pac-10 in net punting (37.76)...Only 23 kicks were returned for 170 yards...Produced 20 touchbacks, most in the Pac-10, on kickoffs...Saw his first career action in the opener against San Diego State and averaged 38.8 yards on five kicks; just one was returned(3 yards)...Also handled kickoff chores ... Averaged 47.0 yards on four punts at Tennessee; one was returned (6)...Had a long punt of 64 yards and averaged 66.3 yards on six kickoffs, with three touchbacks... Averaged 46.7 yards on three punts versus Kansas State; one returned (11)...At Stanford, he averaged 47.8 yards on four punts with a return average of 2.8 yards...He had three touchbacks on kickoffs...Averaged 50.4 yards on seven punts against Oregon; three inside the 20...Two were returned (6)...All three kickoffs reached the end zone...Against Cal, he averaged 45.2 on six kicks with four inside the 20; two returned (10)...Had four touchbacks on six kickoffs...Punted six times for a 48.2 mark at Arizona, including an 81-yard boot... His 81-yarder was UCLA's longest punt since 1995, when Chris Sailer sent a kick the same distance...At Oregon State, he averaged 37.1 yards on seven kicks...Had a 37.5 mark on two kicks against Washington...Punted four times at Washington State for a 44.0 mark with no returns...Averaged 40.4 yards on seven kicks against ASU...Punted seven times at USC for a 44.0 average...Sent eight punts an average of 40.8 yards in bowl win over Temple.

Did not see action in his first season in the program.

No injuries reported

4.68 in the 40-yard dash…29 5/8-inch arm length…8 ½-inch hands…73 1/8-inch wingspan.

Locke attended Mountain Ridge (Glendale, Az.) High School, playing football for head coach Bobby Green...Played wide receiver, punter and kicker...Parade and EA Sports first-team All-American...Ranked the nation's best place-kicker by ESPN...Selected for the Under Armour All-America Game...Received four stars from, as that recruiting service rated him first nationally at punter…Added three stars from, as they rated him the second-best kicker nationally…As a senior, he was selected All-Arizona and first-team all-state...Named second-team all-state as junior...Team captain as senior...Was named 5A All-State as a kicker...Set school records for most field goals in a season (11); longest punt (71 yards); longest field goal (63 yards, a state record)...Also as s a senior, he averaged 43.6 yards on 38 punts with 10 inside the 20-yard line...Had 47 touchbacks on 54 kickoffs...Converted 29 of 32 extra point attempts...Made 11 of 20 field goals, long of 63 yards...As a junior, he averaged 43.3 yards on 46 punts with nine inside the 20..Recorded 33 touchbacks on 40 kickoffs...Converted all 13 PATs...Made seven of 11 field goals, long of 43 yards ... Made 21 receptions for 295 yards and two touchdowns...As a sophomore, he averaged 37 yards on 25 punts, with five inside the 20...39 touchbacks on 59 kickoffs... Made all 34 extra points...Converted six of 14 field goals, long of 48 yards...In his freshman season, he had 11 touchbacks on 70 kickoffs...Made three of five field goal attempts (long of 41 yards)...Earned three letters in soccer, as a defender, for coach Doug Evans...Named All-Region in soccer his last three prep seasons...As a junior, he was selected second-team All-State and Region Player of the Year.

Economics major…Athletic Director's Honor Roll in Fall 2008, Winter 2009, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Winter 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011...Three-year representative on UCLA's Student-Athlete Advisory Council...Participated in the NCAA Career in Sports forum...Son of Boni and Bob Locke…Born Jeffrey Ryan Locke on 9/27/89 in Frankfurt, Germany...Resides in Glendale, Arizona.

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