Ranking the Big Ten: Punter
After a 2020 season that allowed players to transfer with instant eligibility, sit out a season, and return for another, it's hard to keep track of who all will be playing this season in the Big Ten Conference. More importantly, who will be putting on the most impressive performances?
We continue our annual Ranking the Big Ten series today with the punters.
1. Tory Taylor, Iowa
Iowa punter Tory Taylor is the reigning Big Ten Punter of the Year, an impressive accomplishment for his first year as a Hawkeye and his first year as an American punter. The Australian only had experience with Australian football but wasn't a punter in high school.
Taylor earned the second-highest PFF punt grade with a 78.3, just 0.1 behind first place. In 2020, he attempted 40 punts for 1,765 total yards and an average yard per punt of 44.1.
The 2020 first-team All-Big Ten selection had 20 punts inside the 20-yard line, ranking second in the Big Ten punters in 2020. Taylor had nine punts counted as down, also second place. He had six of his punts returned or 15 percent.
Taylor, a first-team Freshman All-America by FWAA, did an incredible job during his first season of American football. The sky is the limit for the second season and all future seasons.
2. Adam Korsak, Rutgers
Rutgers punter Adam Korsak is also from Australia, but, unlike Taylor, he has three years of starting experience with American football as a Scarlet Knight.
Korsak, who has a career-long punt of 79 yards, led the Big Ten in attempts (48) and punting yards (2,061) in 2020. He also had the most punts inside the 20-yard line with 23 and the most balls down with 13.
Last season, Korsak earned a 75.8 punt grade from PFF, the third-highest in the Big Ten. He finished with an 87 grade in 2019 and an 87.8 in 2018.
Korsak holds the fourth-highest punting average in Rutgers history and has the school record for a net punt of 42.27. He's back for another season is likely to claim more Rutgers school records.
3. Blake Hayes, Illinois
Illinois punter Blake Hayes is the second player on this list to be named the Big Ten Punter of the Year (2019) and the third Australian.
Hayes is the most experienced punter on this list, with 258 career punts during the four seasons he has started. Those 258 career punts are the most of a punter in Illinois history. He is Illinois's leader in career punting yardage (11,207), punts inside the 20 (91), and second in punting average (43.4).
In 2020, Hayes earned the No. 1 punt grade with a 78.4 and the third most punts inside the 20-yard line (16). However, he also led the Big Ten with 13 punts returned, an average of 31 percent.
Hayes, who has a career-long punt of 70 yards, will add more and more numbers to his career and season records at the top of Illinois school records in his last season.
4. Brad Robbins, Michigan
Michigan punter Brad Robbins missed the entire 2018 season and the start of the 2019 due to injury. Now he is back and had reclaimed the starting role this year.
Will Hart held the starting job for the Wolverines during Robbins' injury, but when Robbins returned and proved he was healthy, he became the starter. Hart has since transferred to San Jose State for his last season of eligibility.
During his freshman year in 2017, Robbins had a solid year with 64 punts and 2,583 yards, with 24 of those landing inside the 20-yard line.
Robbins punted 23 times in 2020 for 1,041 yards which earned him the highest yards per punt in the Big Ten. He recorded the second-longest average hang time (4.09) of the Big Ten starters. Overall, Robbins ranked No. 4 in the Big Ten in PFF's punt grade.
5. Jordan Stout, Penn State
After transferring from Virginia Tech to Penn State before the 2019 season, Jordan Stout didn't waste any time becoming one of the best punters in Penn State history.
Stout became the first Nittany lion kicker with multiple 50-yard field goals since Kevin Kelly in 2008. He has three 50-plus field goals in his career, including two 57-yarders, tying him for second at Penn State.
Last season, Stout led the Big Ten in average hang time with 4.14 seconds per punt. He earned the fifth-highest punt grade (71.4) and the third-highest kickoff grade in the Big Ten (79.2).
Stout punted 33 times in 2020 for 1,372 yards during his first season as the starting punter for Penn State.
Stout has established himself as one of the best kickoff specialists in the Big Ten and one of the best field goal kickers in Penn State history. Now, he will likely be one of the best punters in 2021.