Boise State punting competition isn’t a chip shot for senior

ccripe@idahostatesman.comAugust 13, 2013 

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Boise State senior Trevor Harman (14) practices punts during the Broncos' first practice of the year in pads at Bronco Stadium on Friday, Aug. 9, 2013.

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— Boise State football coach Chris Petersen left no doubt that senior punter Trevor Harman shouldn't be a comfortable incumbent.

He was asked before fall camp how much redshirt freshman Sean Wale is pushing Harman for the job.

“Extremely a lot,” Petersen said.

That's not news to Harman, whose junior year fell far short of his own expectations as a punter and a kickoff specialist.

“I understand that they're going to play the best punter,” Harman said. “Every single day, I'm going to work as hard as I can to be that guy.”

Harman averaged 41.2 yards per punt last season. He didn't have enough attempts to qualify for the national stats, but he would have ranked slightly below the midpoint.

Of more concern, the Broncos ranked 108th in net punting (34.1 yards per punt). That’s the only major NCAA stat in which the team ranked outside of the top 70.

Harman pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line on just 8-of-42 punts against seven touchbacks. Predecessor Brad Elkin was 25-of-43 in 2011.

“I feel like as a punting group, we had a pretty good year other than pinning them deep, which a lot of that is on me,” Harman said. “Really, all it is is touch. Most definitely, it's a lot harder than it looks.”

Harman came to Boise State as a kicker and has learned how to punt during his career. He has a powerful leg — his long last season was 60 yards — and could be a field-position weapon if he finds consistency.

“I feel like I'm getting there,” he said. “Just having another year under my belt, especially with punting, because I haven't been doing it for super long. I've worked really hard in the offseason. I feel like I got better and made some improvements. Now I'm just trying to keep working and put them to use.”

His competition also has more of a kicking background. Wale started for three years as a kicker and one as a punter at La Habra (Calif.) High, where he averaged 47.5 yards per punt as a senior.

Wale (6-foot-1, 185 pounds), a scholarship recruit in the class of 2012, has added about 15 pounds since arriving in Boise.

“It's been great, especially working alongside a guy like Trevor,” he said of his time as a Bronco. “It lets me push myself against a veteran guy like him. He's also helpful when we aren't on the field.”

Wale and Harman also are competing for kickoff duties, along with kickers Dan Goodale and Tyler Rausa.

Harman (6-3, 211) was the primary kickoff specialist each of the past three seasons, but lost the job late in 2012 to Goodale. Harman's kickoff average plummeted from 65.2 yards per kick two years ago to 60.6 yards last year.

The Broncos also allowed two kickoff returns for touchdowns last year.

“It was frustrating,” Harman said. “I can't really blame anybody but myself. That was a big motivation for me (in the offseason), not being able to have the type of year that I thought I was going to have and wanted to have.”

The problems, he said, were mechanical.

“I picked up some bad habits, and I had to start over this offseason and go from the basics and work my way back from there, and I think it's been helping,” he said. “I like the way I've been kicking off, especially compared to last year. That was a nightmare.”

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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