Over the summer, Buckeye Empire will be bringing you an in-depth position by position breakdown and highlight the young men that will be pursuing perfection and the hopes and dreams of hoisting the crystal ball in Pasadena this coming January. We continue our series with Special Teams and the starting kicker/interim punter Drew Basil.
With All-Everything Punter Ben Buchanan exhausting all of his eligibility, Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer went on a nationwide search for the next pigskin poocher. Just when everything seemed to fall into place for the Buckeyes, everything went south. Literally.
This left the Buckeyes without a scholarship punter for the 2013 season. Tryouts were held, walk-ons offered, and as of the culmination of spring practice, not a single man had distanced himself in the punting game. Some of that can possibly be attributed to the lack of punts occurring in the spring game and some can be attributed to Meyer not having that single specialization guy that he can call on to pin the opponent and use the field position strategy that has become a staple of Ohio State football.
Which brings us to Drew Basil. Basil will likely be called upon throughout the fall practice season to kick punts until a suitable replacement can be found. Basil, the phenom that took over kicking duties from former Major League Soccer player Devin Barclay is coming off his best season to date.
Drew connected on 72.7% of his field goal attempts in 2012, and converted 98.2% of his extra point attempts, netting a cool 80 points for the Buckeyes, accounting for 17.9% of the total points scored in 2012. While Basil has not punted at the collegiate level, the staff is exhibiting some degree of faith in him to perform well given that they have yet to allow “game reps” to any other punter. While I have my own reservations about the same guy taking on two jobs, it can work well provided Basil practices and focuses his energies equally between the two important tasks.
That is not to say that the staff won’t find a guy who can get out there and hit the coffin corner before the Buckeyes open against Buffalo. I fully expect that they will, whether it be converted wideout Frank Epitropolous or another walk-on. Either way, I expect there to be about a 20% chance that Basil is called on to kick and punt in the same game.
Where Drew really shines is with a tee or holder. The former second team All-Ohio from Chillicothe, Basil holds the #3 record for consecutive field goals made and is already second in school history for most field goals made from beyond 40 yards in a season behind the great Mike Nugent.
Basil should once again make the preseason watch list for the Lou Groza Award, given yearly to the nation’s best placekicker, but will he also be looking at a Ray Guy Award watch list nom as well? Time will tell this summer and into the fall as the special teams coaches go punter hunting.