Countdown to camp: Punting down under


GeauxTigerNation writers David Helman and Gary Laney break down the competitions, issues and talking points of LSU's August camp. Players report to campus Aug. 1 and we'll have a preview segment every weekday in July leading up to the day the players report:

On a team full of quirky characters -- the grass-chewing, phrase-manging head coach, the Honey Badger who takes what he wants -- leave it to LSU to find somebody a little bit different to punt last season.

Brad Wing, the Tigers' Australian true-freshman punter, became a bit of a cult hero in his first season. He was a little bit of a departure with his sort of exotic approach to his craft.

Here was a guy who could punt with either foot. He would boot the ball with that front-tip-of-the-ball-down Australian-rules football style, almost like a drop kick. And he would even run with the ball and taunt opponents. His 44-yard run on a fake (uncalled by the coaches) against Florida would have been a touchdown had he not been penalized for taunting before he crossed the goalline.

A punter with an attitude? You had to love it.

But beyond the long runs, the taunting and the funny kicking style was a lot of substance. Wing was simply one of the best punters in college football, a prodigious first-team all-American as a true freshman.

The leg was no joke, producing booming drives that averaged 44.4 yards a boot. And that unusual, Australian style of punting gave him exquisite control, pinning opponents inside their 20-yard line on 27 of 73 boots while only kicking five into the end zone for touchbacks.

Quirky? You might say.

Good? You better believe it.

Wing, whose father punted briefly for the Detroit Lions in 1990, came to Baton Rouge a year before suiting up for LSU, playing his senior season at Parkview Baptist High school. So it wasn't like LSU had to go far and wide looking for him.

So enamored was LSU with his performance, however, LSU did go back to Australia to keep the pipeline going.

At an Australian punting academy, the Tigers found 6-foot-4, 220-pound, 23-year-old Jamie Keehn, who will join the team as a true freshman this season.

Keehn, like Wing, appears to be the real deal athletically. A two-time age-ground national champion in the javelin (sixth in the world school games) as a youth and a one-time national champion in quad skull rowing, Keehn comes in with the resume of a superior athlete.

Does that mean, like Wing, he'll punt with both feet, in that strange, point-down style? Can he make a ball die inside the 20 like Wing?

Is it a Wing thing, or an Australian thing?

Amid all the more pressing battles in August camp, it'll be worth a trot over to where the punters are toiling to find out.