UNC's Ryan Switzer ties NCAA record with punt return touchdown

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

The freshman also set the UNC career record for punt return touchdowns and punt return yards.

In the third quarter of Sunday's Belk Bowl between Cincinnati and North Carolina, John Lloyd skied a punt toward Tar Heel returner Ryan Switzer. Everyone in the stadium knew of Switzer's penchant for explosive returns, and perhaps no one was more aware than Lloyd, whose punt hung in the air for ages, normally guaranteeing a fair catch.

Ryan Switzer isn't interested in your guarantees.

The freshman let multiple defenders pass him by -- one even briefly touched him as he jogged past -- before hauling in the ball and bursting up the middle for the 86-yard touchdown, cementing his place in the record books with his fifth punt return touchdown of the season:


Switzer joins Chad Owens (Hawaii, 2004), Curtis DeLoatch (North Carolina A&T, 2001), LeRoy Vann (Florida A&M, 2009), James Rooths (Shepherd, 1998) and Chris McKinney (Guilford, 2001) as the NCAA record-holders with five punt returns for touchdowns in a single season.

The FBS career record is eight, by Texas Tech's Wes Welker and Oklahoma's Antonio Perkins. The NCAA record is 10, by Rooths.

All five of Switzer's touchdowns came in the second half of the season -- one against Virginia, two against Pittsburgh and one against Old Dominion -- before the Belk Bowl record-tying effort today.

Punt returning isn't the only thing Switzer does, as he's caught 29 passes (three for touchdowns) and even thrown a scoring pass this season.

North Carolina has a bright weapon on their special teams unit for the future -- Switzer's five punt return touchdowns is a career record for the Tar Heels, and he's only a freshman.

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