Punters are often overlooked in the sport of football. It’s a certain technique and practice that only a few players can successfully do game in and game out.
Pinning the opposing team deep with the kick of a football is harder than it looks, but redshirt freshman punter Will Gleeson makes it look easy.
A native of Melbourne, Australia, Gleeson started playing football as a young kid in a youth football league in Australia. Gleeson was also an excellent athlete, playing basketball and was a state champion in the high jump and long jump in track.
This week, Gleeson was named Ray Guy player of the week, the award given to the best punter of the week, and this was the second time this season.
Gleeson has been pleased overall with his season so far.
“I’m relatively pleased,” Gleeson said. “I need to improve on my hang-time and try to get rid of those shanks I have once or twice a game. Overall, I’m relatively pleased.”
Coming from Australia, rugby is the sport of choice and a sport Gleeson loved to watch growing up. As a punter, he adopted the Rugby style of punting, where he focuses more on getting a good roll of the football rather than the distance and hang-time of a punt.
Gleeson enjoys punting both rugby style and the traditional way of punting. According to Gleeson, it all depends on the situation and what the coaches prefer.
When Ole Miss travels to LSU, the game will feature two friends at punter, both of which trained together at Prokick Academy in Melbourne. Gleeson and LSU junior punter Jamie Keehn have bragging rights on the line Saturday.
“I’m looking forward to going down there and having a chat with him,” Gleeson said. “I talked to my coach last night, and he said I had to beat him. We’ll see how it goes.”
Gleeson has been a blessing in disguise for the Rebels’ special teams. Gleeson is third in the SEC with an average of 45.47 yards traveled per punt on 32 punts.
His friend/rival Keehn has the upper hand so far, as he is second in the SEC with 45.52 yards per punt average.
Saturday night was a busy one for Gleeson, who punted nine times against Tennessee and put up an impressive average of 48.22 yards per punt.
With the offense struggling in the first quarter, Gleeson was kept busy, which was something he enjoyed.
“It was fun. Following the first quarter, I think I was in for a big night,” Gleeson said. “It was a lot better once the offense got moving. It was good to get on the field.”
Gleeson was often forced to get good punts off with the offense struggling and pinning themselves deep in their own territory. His attitude changed to get good distance on his punts rather getting a good bounce.
“I knew I was going to be punting a lot, so I controlled my warmup a little bit, slowed everything down and relaxed,” Gleeson said.
Gleeson is excited to face his good friend Keehn Saturday, but what exactly are the bragging rights for punters?
“Average net (yards) I suppose,” Gleeson said. “Better looking ball, inside the 10. Things like that.”