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June 26, 2009

Ranking the Big 12: Kickers and Punters

For the most part, kickers and punters are some of the most underappreciated players in the game. That is, until they can solely determine the outcome of a game. While they may get overlooked at times, there's little question of how big of an impact kickers and punters can have in determining wins and losses. Today, Huskeronline.com ranks the Big 12's kickers and punters as we think they stand heading into fall camp.

Other Big 12 Rankings: QB l RB l WR l TE l OL l DT l DE l LB l CB l S l KR/PR

1. Alex Henery, Nebraska, 6-2, 175, Jr.
Arguably the most accurate kicker in Nebraska history, Alex Henery connected on 18-of-21 field goals and 56-of-57 extra points as a sophomore last year, and he should only get better over the next two seasons. His 110 points last year were the most by a Husker since 2001, and his 85.7 percent field goal accuracy led the Big 12 and ranked in the top 12 nationally. Henery also showed his ability to make the big kick when he booted a school-record 57 yarder to beat Colorado in the season finale.
2. Derek Epperson, Baylor, 6-3, 235, Jr.
Far and away the best punter in the Big 12, Baylor's Derek Epperson is coming off a sophomore year that saw him earn first-team all-conference honors and finish as a Ray Guy Award semifinalist. Known for his booming leg, Epperson ranked ninth nationally and second in the Big 12 last season in punting average (44.27 yards per punt) and added three punts of 60 yards or more. While Baylor might not be punting this season as much as it has in recent years, Epperson still serves as one of the Bears' most valuable players.
3. Hunter Lawrence, Texas, 6-0, 185, Sr.
A model of consistency, Texas's Hunter Lawrence enters his fourth season as the Longhorns' starting kicker. A second-team All-Big 12 selection last year, Lawrence led UT with 90 points and connected on 10-of-12 field goals (83.3 percent), making him the third-most accurate kicker in school history. He also hit 60-0f-60 extra points to tie for the longest consecutive streak in team history.
4. Dan Bailey, Oklahoma State, 6-1, 185, Jr.
Oklahoma State's Dan Bailey is quietly becoming one of the most prolific scorers in school history. Despite only being the starting kicker for a little more than one season, Bailey is already climbing up OSU's career scoring charts, as he ranked second on the team (Dez Bryant) and fifth in the Big 12 last year with 110 points. Maybe even more impressive is that he has yet to miss an extra point, connecting on all 85 of his point-after attempts.
5. Mike Brandtner, Iowa State, 6-1, 211, Sr.
The only Iowa State player to make any of our top-five lists, punter Mike Brandtner was one of the few bright spots for the Cyclones last season. While the offense struggled severely at times, Brandtner's big leg kept the field position manageable with a 41.6 yard punting average, including a long of 69 yards. His career average of 40.6 yards per punt ranks fifth in ISU history, and he has yet to have a punt blocked entering his third year as a starter.

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