Now that Blake Gillikin has graduated and moved on to the NFL who will take control of punting at Penn State? Over Gillikin’s four years as a Nittany Lion, he averaged 43 yards per punt and amassed over 10,000 punting yards. Gillikin was consistent each week even when the rest of the special teams was not. There are currently three potential punters on the 2020 roster. Two of which are also placekickers. There is not a designated punter in the 2020 class, but that does not mean the Nittany Lions will be left without. So, who will take control of punting at Penn State come fall?
Who Will be Punting at Penn State in 2020?
There are three candidates that have punting potential for the Nittany Lions. Redshirt sophomore Bradley King is strictly a punter according to the Penn State roster. Further, there is redshirt junior Carson Landis, and redshirt junior Jordan Stout. Stout made waves a season ago as a transfer from Virginia Tech. In his first season at Penn State, Stout was primarily utilized in kickoffs and field goal attempts over 50 yards. The Nittany Lions had plenty of options in 2019, which allowed Stout to specialize. Now, with the departure of Gillikin, that is not the case.
Neither King or Landis have seen game action in Blue and White. Although, while at Lackawanna College, King was first-team all-conference and had a long punt of 60 yards in 2018. This leaves Stout to take on more duties than he had in 2019.
Add Punter to Stout’s Resume
Back in April special teams coordinator, Joe Lorig, stated that Stout will be taking on more responsibility in his second season as a Nittany Lion. According to Lorig, Stout will no longer just be handling kickoffs and field goal attempts over 50 yards. Stout will also handle punting duties and act as the holder for kicker Jake Pinegar. Adding Stout a season ago helped an already strong special teams unit. It wasn’t that long ago that fans would cover their eyes and hope for the best when it was time to kick a field goal or were stuck in a fourth-and0long situation. Now, this unit is one of the most consistent that Penn State has. Therefore, it is not surprising that the coaching staff would look to Stout to add punter to his name.
With the flexibility that the Nittany Lions had in 2019 gone with the departure of Gillikin, it will fall to Pinegar and Stout to carry the load, with Stout doing more than 50% of the jobs. Penn State fans know Stout as the kicker that can send the ball through the endzone for a touchback a lot of the time. He has also been called on in very long field goal situations, so how will he manage to do both of those jobs and punting throughout the game? Lorig had an answer for that too. According to an interview back in April, Lorig said, “I really kind of put it in baseball terms like what’s the right pitch count per day to make sure that a guy can stay healthy.” If you are a baseball fan this is a very good way to describe managing a specialized player’s workload. Taking it game-by-game and practice-by-practice is likely the only way to manage this type of situation.
Stout proved last season that Virginia Tech made a mistake in letting him go. It will be interesting to watch how he progresses this fall. In that April interview, Lorig went on to say, “I’m excited about Jordan. I think he’s gonna do a really, really, really good job.” I think we can all agree that it is going to be exciting to watch Stout’s full potential unfold and to see him take on all of these different responsibilities.