When youre following in the path of a punter who clocked a 4.64 40-yard dash at the Combine, bench presses more than 370 pounds, had a 10-yard split of 1.53 seconds in college (faster than 2012 Olympic medalist Jeff Demps) and, oh yeah, was second in the nation last season with a 47.1-yard punting average, life could be a little pressure-packed.
But new University of Miami punting contenders Justin Vogel and Ricky Carroll say theyre only looking ahead, certainly not at what the Hurricanes dont have now that 2013 ace Pat ODonnell is playing with the Chicago Bears.
Im going to do what needs to be done, said Carroll, a walk-on senior who at 24 is believed to be the oldest Hurricane but has been with UM since 2012 without having played in a game. Pat ODonnell had a much, much stronger leg than anyone Ive ever seen. Those are big shoes to fill to be a Pat ODonnell.
Vogel, a walk-on who was a Florida Gator the past two seasons and also has never played in a college game, said he didnt know or see ODonnell who these days is a Bears fan favorite who elicits megapunt! whenever he booms one in training camp.
He was obviously a great punter, Vogel said. Im just going to do whatever I can do, and well see what happens. Im not going to try and worry about beating him. Im just going to worry about being the best I can for this team.
Vogel, at 6-4 and 210 pounds, is from Tampa and averaged 45 yards per punt at Berkeley Prep, where he played defense along with special teams.
His father, Paul, played college football at South Carolina and middle linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Oilers.
He said the situation with the Gators was unfavorable for me, and everyone understands it. So if its not going to work out where youre at, find a team that needs you and wants you, and thats what Miami wanted. They needed a punter, so I saw a great opportunity.
Vogel is a junior academically but has three seasons of eligibility left.
I had a couple scholarship offers from some smaller schools like Northern Illinois, he said, but I decided I wanted to take a shot here and play with a good Division I school.
He is competing to do kickoffs, as Carroll is out of that competition and kicker Matt Goudis sustained a back injury during the summer and hasnt been practicing them in camp.
Right now, Im doing what Coach [Al] Golden wants, like 43 yards and 4.3 hang [time], Vogel said. I kick more than that here, but thats the average Im shooting for.
Vogel, 20, said he hasnt gotten too much grief about being a former Gator.
They tease you a little bit in the beginning, but then its just like they beat us anyway [last season], so they had the upperhand. Everyones cool, he said.
Vogel said theres not much of a difference in practice between UF and UM, but that UF coach Will Muschamp is way more focused on the defense and Golden is more into the players. I feel like he knows me better; I mean also because hes the special teams coach.
Golden said both punters are doing a good job, but its just not quite time to determine the punter race. Were the only place in America that [has] a punter controversy, right? he joked. Pat was good. Im going to let the punters compete every day, compare and see them in a live situation, and then well determine after that.
Carroll, who is 6-3 and 198 pounds, played his first two seasons at Orange Coast, a junior college in Costa Mesa, California. He was a baseball shortstop before he blew out both shoulders.
The left one, he said, was popping out when I swung. It would slip. So Id have to hold it in place because I was a righty.
And the other one?
They said overuse.
He figures he is averaging 43 or 44 yards per punt, which is coachs standard.
Carrolls dream is to travel to a game and, of course, punt.
Would it be worth the hard work if he doesnt win the job?
Oh my gosh, absolutely, he said.
Im a gamer. I love to compete. If I dont win the starting job, yes, Ill be crushed. But to say I was a part of this program is a lifetime experience in its own [right]. Very few people can say theyve done what Ive done.