The 90 Illini #17: Blake Hayes
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There's a note in Blake Hayes' bio that says he has punted 11,207 yards so far in his career (the most in Illini history). And with the Covid waiver, he'll add to that this season. There's 1,760 yards in a mile, so that's 6.37 miles he has punted so far.
I remember hearing before that the stadium for Washington State (in Pullman) and the stadium for the University of Idaho (in Moscow) are six and a half miles apart. So there you go. In his career, Blake Hayes has punted from the Idaho campus to the Washington State campus. And once he's done with his fifth season, he'll be somewhere around eight miles.
Sorry. Forgot. He's Australian. 12.9 Kilometers.
17. Blake Hayes
Uniform number: 14
Year in school: Senior (1 year to play 1)
Height: 6'-6" -- Weight: 225 lbs.
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
High School: Brighton Secondary School
Five best offers: n/a
Tom Cruise rating:
2020 statistics: Played in all 8 games, 43.3 yards per punt, 16 punts inside the 20 with only one touchback. Also averaged 17 yards per carry on two fake punts.
It's possible more people know his background than anyone else on the team. Played "footie" in Australia, joined Pro Kick Australia (the organization responsible for maybe half the punters in college right now), and got a scholarship offer from Illinois. He's now taking advantage of the Covid waiver to get a fifth season of college football.
Because of that Australian Rules Football background, he has an entire golf bag of kicks. Low spiral into the wind. High boomer with the wind. Checked-up lob wedge when he's trying to stop it inside the five. He's not the longest punter in Illinois history, but he's probably the best iron player.
In case you skipped over the stats above, I wanted to point one out here. He put 16 punts inside the 20 last year, and only one went into the endzone for a touchback. Just think about that. 16 punts inside the 20, 15 stayed there.
With the way Bret Bielema talks about drives and field position, I think he's going to really love Blake Hayes. If he has his best year as a fifth-year senior, with 12 games, he can probably pin opponents inside the 20... 25 times this season? That will be my goal for Hayes this year. 25 inside the 20.