Looks Like University Of Illinois - Blake Hayes
While catching up on LLOUI posts here, I realized that I need to do one for the new punter. Typically, these posts are for the next recruiting class, but we just added a guy who will be punting this fall. Well, spring for him.
Blake Hayes is about to leave a cold winter in Australia and head to the United States to kick footballs in Memorial Stadium. (I know - some parts of Australia are like Florida so they don't really have a "winter" but I'm on a roll here.) Why has Australia become a hotbed for college punters? If my childhood taught me anything, it's because of Australian Rules Football.
See, kids, before ESPN was just a bunch of people yelling #takes at each other, they showed actual sporting events. As a child of the 1980's, I spent a lot of time (A LOT) watching Australian Rules Football on ESPN. It's kind of 1/3rd American football, 1/3rd soccer, and 1/3rd rugby.
It's basically two teams of 18 punters who run around the field bumping the ball to each other (there's no passing - you have to volleyball-serve the ball to your teammate) and avoiding getting tackled until they're in range to punt the ball through the uprights. If you get it through the center uprights, it's 6 points; if you get it through the secondary uprights on either side, it's 1 point. And when you get it through the center uprights, the official makes this really cool "double finger guns by his side" motion to indicate six points. It's great.
Now, this is one wild assumption here - I can't really talk about offers or camp film or anything like that, so I have to talk about something - because I don't really know if he grew up playing Australian Rules Football. Maybe there are American football leagues and that's where he got the itch. But the organization he comes from - Prokick Australia, who brags on their website of earning their players nearly $10 million in American college scholarships the last 10 years - basically took a bunch of kids who know how to punt (from the Australian version of the game) and got them set up with colleges where they can use that leg to get a free education.
Which is great for us because we really, really, REALLY need a punter this fall. The current options are a walkon (Ryan Tucker, who missed training camp last year due to an internship so I'm not really certain whether he can kick or not), a scholarship placekicker (James McCourt, who was brought in to kick but might need to punt as well), and an incoming preferred-walkon (Bryce Barringer who was originally headed to Southern Illinois but has taken a PWO spot at Illinois instead).
I can't really emphasize how concerned I've been about punting in 2017. Well, if you're a regular reader, you know. I've even gotten desperate enough to suggest that quarterback Chayce Crouch might be the best option for punter. (I suggested this to Lovie in a recent interview. He looked at me funny.)
Adding Hayes is really huge if he's prepared to punt right away. I mean, it's possible that Baringer (or even Tucker) is better, but we were about to face a season where we might be looking at averaging something like 29 yards per punt. It was really dire and we were hoping for a miracle. Hopefully, Hayes is that miracle.
One oddity - he's a lefty. I'm not sure why, but you don't see many lefty punters. I doesn't really change anything, it's just interesting. And it's weird to watch the ball come off his foot.
As for Tom Cruises, man, I don't have the slightest idea. The best evaluation I can do is to take that video above and look at hang time. So yes, I got out my stopwatch and researched it. Consistently 4.6 to 4.8, which is great. So, yay - he can kick a ball a long way.
Beyond that, there's nothing to go off of. So I'm going with "he can adequately perform his job, perhaps working up to being a plus punter". That's right down the middle with a 2.5.
Blake Hayes - two and one half Tom Cruises