AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas took its first step toward addressing part of its kicking issues Wednesday.
Alex King, a former punter from Duke, has enrolled in graduate school at Texas and will finish his final year of eligibility with the Longhorns. He will compete with William Russ, who struggled in the spring, for the starting job.
At Duke, King averaged 41.38 yards per punt. Last season, Texas kicker/punter Justin Tucker averaged just 38.6 yards per punt and clearly struggled with his distance down the stretch.
Texas coach Mack Brown believed Tucker’s leg was worn out by the end of the season. That’s one reason Brown has made the move to get more depth in the kicking game.
The other reason was because Texas was not enamored with what it saw in the kicking game during the spring. Russ struggled more with field goals than he did punts. Still if Russ were to falter, the Longhorns have options.
King’s big leg also should play into Texas 2012 philosophy of winning with defense. The Longhorns are going to be interested in winning the field position battles and wearing teams down. To do that it is imperative they get better in the kicking game. The Longhorns were ninth in the Big 12 in punting last year with a net average of 34.9.
That King has had success at a school not usually blessed with speedy gunners --Duke was No. 2 in the ACC in net average last season at 37.1. That bodes well for Texas.
King had 50 punts last season and downed 17 of those inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. He also had seven kicks of 50-plus yards. The prior season, King punted 55 times and had an average of 41.13
“The coaches, facilities, fans, and strong football tradition first attracted me, but in such a short time period the relationships between myself and the coaches and staff at UT are what made me feel most comfortable with changing schools for my final year,” King said in a release. “There is so much talent at UT, and I was also impressed with the humility of many of this year’s incoming freshmen when I met them. I am excited to be a part of this team.”