On Saturday, Heidelberg’s Austin Baker uncorked a 95-YARD PUNT, which really traveled more like 104 YARDS OFF HIS FOOT:
FOLKS WE'VE GOT FOOTAGE OF A DIVISION III 95-YARD PUNT pic.twitter.com/p6rtDGXMpw— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) November 3, 2018
The thing rolled into the end zone for a touchback for home team John Carroll, but whatever. It remains amazing.
A 95-yard punt is still the longest in Division III history, eclipsing a 91-yarder from 2014. That’s provided nobody else in 2018 has hit a 95-yard punt in DIII. I certainly haven’t heard about it, so when the NCAA releases a new record book for 2019, I bet Baker will be atop it.
It’s not the longest punt in NCAA history. Nevada’s Pat Brady had a 99-YARDER against Loyola Marymount in 1950, when every punter’s leg was made of melted steel. (Do not fact-check me on that. Just trust me.) It’s nonetheless a preposterous boot.
You could watch football your whole life and not come across a 95-yard punt. Even funnier to me is thinking about it as a touchback that still netted 75 yards.
Baker told SB Nation after the game that field and play conditions helped him launch this atomic punt, in addition to him making solid contact.
He had a slight wind at his back. (John Carroll’s in Ohio, with plenty of wind in November.) And JCU wasn’t trying to block the kick, instead spreading wide to guard against a fake and prevent gunners from getting downfield.
“So I kinda had a little bit more time, and I wasn’t under too much pressure,” Baker said.
The goal, of course, is not to hit a 95-YARD PUNT. Baker was only hoping to boot the ball to around midfield.
“I think the biggest goal would be to get it past midfield. If you get it past midfield with little return, or even if they do catch it, they get no return out of it and they fair catch it, as long as it’s past the 50, I think you’re giving your defense a better opportunity prevent a score.”
The ball landed at the 35 — well past where Baker figured it would go — and then bounced forever on the field’s artificial turf.
One of Heidelberg’s “snipers” — downfield coverage men — came really close to preventing the touchback after sprinting 95 yards.
He just narrowly missed, which made the punter feel bad.
“It was a little bit demoralizing, just because the snipers were running so hard trying to be able to stop it from going into the end zone,” Baker said.
How did Baker muster the strength to punt a ball that far? The most stunning thing about all of this is the pregame meal.
The kid had merely eaten yogurt and a PB&J. That was it.
After rewriting the punting record book, Baker was en route to a local Buffalo Wild Wings with his parents. There, he planned to reap the spoils of his day.
“Probably some boneless wings,” he said. “I think I’m gonna go with some honey barbecue.”