UK Football Positional Preview: Kickers/Punters

When the University of Kentucky record books are reviewed, one name will jump off the pages: Austin MacGinnis. MacGinnis has set many records during his career, including most points in a season (104), most field goals in a season (21), most extra points in a season without a miss (41 of 41), most kickoff touchbacks in a season (25), longest field goal in school history (54 yards) and consecutive field goals made (9). MacGinnis is also the all-time leading scorer in UK history with 359 points, surpassing Lones Seiber, who had 305 points. Replacing MacGinnis will be no easy task.

(Photo courtesy of NationofBlue.com)

The revolving door of punters at Kentucky the last two years, with Grant McKinniss and Matt Panton, is a change from the stability of the previous years of Tim Masthay, Ryan Tydlacka and Landon Foster each punting for three to four years.  While Panton performed well last year (41.8 yards per punt), it is not what Kentucky fans are used to seeing. Replacing Panton should be an easier task than replacing MacGinnis.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

There are a couple of players on campus that will be competing to replace MacGinnis. Tyler Pack (6-4, 275) and Miles Butler (5-9, 171) were both excellent high school kickers in the state of Kentucky. Butler, however, has college kicking experience. Butler, in relief of an injured Austin MacGinnis, kicked his first four career field goals, including a long of 46 yards. Pack set state records for longest punt (89 yards) and longest field goal (60 yards) during his senior season.

(Photos courtesy of UK Athletics)

The third candidate for the kicker position is incoming freshman Chance Poore (6-3, 200). Poore was ranked the nation’s #1 kicker by ProKicker.com, as well as being the #2 punter. Poore made 65 out of 69 PAT’s and 19 out of 27 field goals, with a long of 48 yards. However, Poore has demonstrated a stronger leg during video workouts, kicking field goals from 60 yards and longer. Miles Butler would be the safe choice to pick for starting kicker. However, if Poore can acclimate to college quickly, he is the likely candidate to be the starting kicker, due to his strong leg and accuracy.

(Photo courtesy of gobigbluecountry.com)

Grant McKinniss (6-1, 210) came to UK with great expectations, but his performance has not measured up to the expectations so far. McKinniss was rated the nations #4 punter by Scout in the 2016 class. He averaged 40 yards per punt in high school, but that average fell to 37.9 yards per punt as a freshman at Kentucky. McKinniss was beaten by Matthew Panton for the starting punter’s position in 2017 and decided to redshirt. If McKinniss can return to the form that he has in high school, he may be able to reclaim his starting job.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

However, he will have to beat out the #1 rated punter in Max Duffy (6-4, 220). Duffy is a former Australian Rules football player, with a strong and accurate leg. Special Teams Coordinator Dean Hood has shown a liking for rugby style punters, as evidenced by his convincing Matthew Panton to transfer to Kentucky. Duffy kicked at the same academy as Matthew Panton and current Steelers punter Jordan Berry. It was generally assumed that McKinniss would resume his starting role after Panton’s graduation, but that scenario has changed. It will be a true position battle between McKinniss and Duffy. I believe that Duffy’s age (24) and experience playing professionally in Australian rules football will net him the starting nod.

(Photo courtesy of Max Duffy’s Twitter)

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