The difference between winning and losing games comes down to field position. A punter that can effectively flip field position is like having another defensive player on the field.
A punter’s primary job is to pin an opposing team inside its own 20-yard line and force them to drive the ball the length of the field. Three things separate good punters from legends: angles distance and hang time.
In pinning opposing teams inside the 20-yard line, punters have to angle their kicks toward the sideline. Distance and hang time are important because you want to have a good net punting average as well as prevent the opponent from having a chance to return the kick.
In its history, Alabama has recruited exceptional punters that handled the task well. From Lane Bearden to Cody Mandell, the Crimson Tide brought in specialist that aggravated opposing offenses.
Top 5 Punters of All-Time
5. Tank Williamson (1990-91)
- Under head coach Gene Stallings, Williamson played in 18 games.
- He totaled 95 punts for 3,803 yards (40.0 yards per punt) in his career.
- Williamson’s best season came in 1991.
- In 1991, he recorded 50 punts (40.1 yards per punt) for 2,005 yards.
- Williamson appeared in two bowl games with Alabama.
4. Daniel Pope (1995-98)
- Under the leadership of Stallings and Mike DuBose, Pope became a solid punter.
- He had 129 punts or 5,931 yards (43.5 yards per punt) in his career.
- Pope’s finest performances came in 1997 and 1998.
- In 1997, he totaled 57 punts (43.1 yards per punt) for 2,457 yards.
- Pope had 66 punts for 2,901 yards (44.0 yards per punt) in 1998.
- He made one bowl appearance with Alabama (1998 Music City Bowl).
- Pope played five years in the NFL (Kansas City, Cincinnati, New York Jets and New England).
3. Gregg Gantt (1971-73)
- Gantt played in the latter years of Paul Bryant.
- He holds Alabama records for punting average in a single season (48.7 in 1973) and in a career (43.6 in 1971-73).
- Gantt was mostly known for the 1972 Iron Bowl “Punt, Bama, Punt.” He had two of his punts blocked by Bill Newton and returned for touchdowns by David Langner. Auburn defeated Alabama 17-16.
- He made three bowl appearances with the Tide.
- Gantt won a national title with Alabama in 1973.
- He was a 3x SEC champion in 1971-73.
- The New York Jets selected Gantt with the 187th pick (eighth round) in the 1974 NFL Draft.
- He played two seasons with New York and totaled 134 punts for 4,845 yards.
2. Chris Mohr (1985-88)
- Mohr played 45 games in his tenure at Alabama.
- He had 209 punts for 8,863 yards (42.4 yards per punt) in his career.
- Mohr’s most prolific season was in 1985.
- In 1985, he recorded 44 punts (45.1 yards per punt) for 1,986 yards.
- Mohr was the SEC’s best punter in 1988.
- He tossed a touchdown pass in 1988.
- Mohr made four bowl appearances with Alabama.
- He was drafted in the sixth round (146th pick) of 1989 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- Mohr played 14 years in the NFL, including nine years with the Buffalo Bills.
- He made three Super Bowl appearances with Buffalo (Super Bowl XXVI, Super Bowl XVII and Super Bowl XVIII).
1. Lane Bearden (1999-02)
- Bearden was the definition of a warrior.
- He played in 34 games in his tenure at Alabama.
- Bearden played on a torn ACL in his senior season.
- He totaled 160 punts for 6,497 yards (40.6 yards per punt) in his career.
- Bearden’s best seasons came in 2000 and 2002.
- In 2000, he had 60 punts for 2,443 yards (40.7 yards per punt).
- Bearden amassed 50 punts for 2,074 yards (41.5 yards per punt) in 2002.
- He had one rushing touchdown in his career (2002).
- Bearden made three bowl appearances with Alabama, including the 2000 FedEx Orange Bowl Game (1999 season).
Honorable Mentions: Malcolm Simmons, Woody Umphrey, Cody Mandell and P.J. Fitzgerald
Cody Mandell (2010-13)
- Despite early struggles, Mandell developed into a solid punter for Alabama in his junior and senior seasons.
- He had 169 punts for 7,191 yards (42.6 yards per punt) in his career.
- Mandell placed opponents inside its own 20-yard line 56 times in his career.
- His best seasons came in 2012 and 2013.
- In 2012, Mandell recorded 50 punts for 2,214 yards (44.3 yards per punt)
- He had 39 punts for 1,836 yards (47.1 yards per punt) in 2013.
- In both seasons, Mandell totaled 35 punts that pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line.
- He was an SEC champion in 2012.
- Mandell was a two-time national champion (2011 and 2012 seasons).
- He went undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft, but signed onto the Dallas Cowboys.
P.J. Fitzgerald (2006-09)
- Fitzgerald played in 54 games in his tenure at Alabama.
- He had 238 punts for 9,845 yards (39.9 yards per punt) in his career.
- Fitzgerald’s best seasons were in 2008 and 2009.
- In 2008, he totaled 59 punts (41.1 yards per punt) for 2,427 yards.
- Fitzgerald had 58 punts for 2,407 yards (41.5 yards per punt) in 2009.
- He had 66 punts that pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line.
- Fitzgerald was a candidate for the Ray Guy Award in 2009.
- He made four bowl appearances with Alabama.
- Fitzgerald was an SEC champion in 2009.
- He was a nationa1 champion (2009 season).