Preferred Walk-On Punter Still Leaning Towards Tennessee
By Michael Chung
It has been nearly two weeks since National Signing Day, when Urban Meyer and his coaching staff landed one of the top recruiting classes in the country.
Ohio State’s 2013 class seemed to have a little bit of everything. Everything that is, except for a punter. Meyer thought he had taken care of that hole on the roster when he landed a commitment from Johnny Townsend, one of the top high school punters in the country, over the summer.
But Townsend pulled a signing day shocker, opting to sign with the hometown Florida Gators after receiving an 11th hour call from head coach Will Muschamp. He was originally offered a preferred walk-on spot with the Gators, but Muschamp called on the Monday before signing day to extend a full scholarship offer.
That was enough to sway Townsend, who has a brother at Florida and where both of his parents went to school. His last-minute decision left Ohio State with a question mark at the punter position, where Ben Buchanan graduated after three years as the starter in Columbus.
“No, I'm not worried about it,” OSU offensive coordinator Tom Herman told Brandon Castel of The-Ozone Thursday evening.
“We'll figure it out.”
One of the first things Meyer did was make a call to Andrew Gantz, one of the top in-state kickers/punters out of Centerville High School. Gantz was planning to enroll at Tennessee and kick for the Volunteers – who he chose over scholarship offers from Utah and Nevada – when Meyer reached out to him.
“Coach Meyer called me on that Thursday, Feb.7,” Gantz told The-Ozone.
“He wants me to be a preferred walk-on and earn the scholarship in the summer.”
Gantz played for the type of program that didn’t kick many field goals. In fact, he attempted only four of them during his entire career, making a pair from over 40 yards and missing another. He also had one blocked.
According to Gantz, he has connected from as far out as 67 yards, but what really caught Meyer’s attention was Gantz’s ability to kick it high and kick it deep on kickoff. He also averaged 38 yards per punt last season for the Elks.
“My average hang time was 4.5 seconds,” he said.
Gantz was blown away by the facilities in Knoxville and intrigued by the idea of competing the starting place kicker job as a freshman in the fall.
“Tennessee is a beautiful school and a great academic institution,” Gantz said.
“They have the third largest stadium in the country and play in the SEC. They have the best facilities in the country and the most trustworthy coaches I've met.”
The Buckeyes are offering him a similar opportunity to compete for a starting spot this fall, but it would be as a punter. Where Ohio State may be able to make up some ground is the fact Gantz told us he was always an Ohio State fan growing up, but he remains committed to the Volunteers.
Gantz said he plans to make his final decision over the next few days, but told The-Ozone he is still 90 percent certain he will end up playing for Butch Jones down at Tennessee next season.
*Thank you Andrew for your time. We wish you the best as you decide where you will attend the next four years of school.