As various publications begin producing their upcoming previews of the 2015 college football season, many will provide their own predictions for who they believe should take home individual awards at the end of the season.
Last season, Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy, the award that goes to the nation's best player over the course of the season as selected by a large group of sportswriters and former football players. Mariota, the former quarterback for the Oregon Ducks, had a fantastic year in which the Ducks made the National Championship game largely in part due to Mariota's absurd 42 touchdowns compared with only 4 interceptions.
Mariota's performance over the course of the season displays the type of effort, skill, and hard work required to bring home what is arguably college football's most coveted trophy - the Heisman. Entering the 2015 season many names have been floated around as preseason favorites for the trophy including TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, and Georgia running back Nick Chubb.
However, we at Blogger So Dear have a different name which should be in the hunt for this prestigious award. As fans of Wake Forest, a team not traditionally considered by the national media to be a contender year-in and year-out in the college, we are well aware of the bias against those who might be referred to as "the little guy" and it is for this reason that we would be utterly remiss in failing to promote the Heisman candidacy of one of the most underrated players in all of college football: senior punter Alexander Kinal.
As the nation begins to become aware of another Australian hero in one Matthew Dellavedova, we can only snicker to think that we have been bringing the Down Under Thunder for several years now.
Throughout his first three years in Winston-Salem, all Alex Kinal has done is break records. Well and punt.....a lot.
In three seasons Kinal has booted the ball an astonishing 262 times (or an average of 87.3 punts per season). While his use count has decreased each of his three years as a Demon Deacon, from 95 times in 2013 to 86 times in 2014 to only 81 times in 2015, Kinal continues to impress in ways other than just sheer number of punts over the course of the year.
In 2015, Kinal managed to punt the ball 81 times without recording a single touchback, an accomplishment which provided a Demon Deacon team desperate to win the field position game with a much-needed spark several times throughout the season.
Kinal finished last season ranked 21st in the nation in punt average, with the average punt sailing 43.64 yards - or put another way an average of 294.6 yards per game. To put these yards in context, the Demon Deacon offense only averaged 216.3 yards per game last season, really indicating the impressive type of yardage Kinal was putting up on a regular basis.
Despite falling just shy of leading the nation in punts for a third consecutive year (a devastating blow honestly), Kinal's 81 punts were enough to vault him to the top of the Wake Forest all-time list for punts, past the legendary Ryan Plackemeier, and it does not appear to be a record which will fall any time soon. Plackemeier booted the ball 220 times during his time as a Demon Deacon, a record Kinal has already broken by 42 punts with a minimum of 12 games remaining.
To provide further context for the voluminous number of times Kinal has been called in to punt the football through his first 36 games in Winston-Salem, check out Kinal's current pace compared to the all-time ACC and NCAA punt leaders: