Most punters don’t receive much hype — Louis Hedley has completely changed the narrative surrounding specialists.
During Miami’s first practice of the new season, Hedley’s punts received cheers — a far cry from Zach Feagles’ lack of production a season ago. Hurricane fans are excited to see the difference a consistent punter can make.
“These [specialists] are put under a lot of pressure. It’s good to get a warm welcome, especially a guy coming from so far away, and make it feel like home for him and be comfortable a little bit,” said Hurricanes special teams coordinator Jonathan Patke regarding the response Hedley received. “It was exciting for him, I think. But that wears off quickly. We hope they cheer like that in a game.”
Louis Hedley just hitting bombs. pic.twitter.com/3fZjYaMhpm— Andrew Ivins (@Andrew_Ivins) July 27, 2019
In 2018, flipping the field and pinning opponents deep in their own territory wasn’t as common as it should’ve been. Ultimately, it was far from the only issue that plagued the Hurricanes, but it often added pressure to the defense, making it hard to have control over field position. This reason is why Hedley may hold the key to consistency if he does in fact, win the starting job.
While the race for the starting quarterback job gets the most attention, the starting punter battle between Jack Spicer and Hedley is heating up. Spicer, a rising redshirt senior, has useful game experience as he split reps with Zach Feagles last season.
While Spicer’s experience is a benefit, he and Feagles combined to average 38.2 yards per punt, ranking 115th nationally, and worst in the ACC. However, the current competition may bring out the best in Spicer.
“I love him. I understand him. At first, I didn’t. There were some times where he would definitely get annoyed with me, and I would be like, ‘what?’ and he would have to say it over again,” Spicer said about Hedley. “Especially in the hot tub [training room]. It’s echoing, and he has that bass to his voice and it’s like, ‘What did you say?’ He’s a great guy. Definitely a blessing to have him here and push me. ... The competition is just great.”