Punter showing promise in team’s slow start

This time last year redshirt freshman Chris Ayers was sidelined and watching someone else take the snaps at punter.

Before he came to FIU, Ayers played at South Broward High School in Hollywood, Fla.

“I didn’t really get into punting until my freshman year in high school, and began taking it really seriously in my sophomore year,” Ayers said. “I played soccer before that but never really envisioned playing soccer seriously outside of the club team that I was on.”

According to ESPN, following the game against the University of Louisville, Ayers had 30 of the Panthers’ 37 overall punts for a total of 1,053 yards, an average of 35.1 per, and a long of 56 yards which is tied for 66th in the nation.

Going into the bye week, Ayers was in second place for total punts with his 30 throughout Division-1A. Still with a majority of the other teams having played this weekend he is now tied for ninth.

“To me, it feels good to play and get experience since it’s my first year actually on the field for a Division 1-A program. In reality though, for the team’s betterment, I would honestly rather not be on the field so that our team has the chance to score and win some more,” Ayers said.

Ayers also stated that, going into Conference-USA play, he doesn’t know whether or not he will be used as much as he was against teams like the University of Central Florida (10) and nine apiece against both the University of Maryland  and the University of Louisville. He didn’t get utilized as much against Bethune-Cookman because Head Coach Ron Turner wanted to use a different style of punting.

“Jake (Medlock) is more comfortable and better at the rugby style of punt, and since we knew that Bethune-Cookman would be sending a lot of guys up the middle to rush the punt we wanted to see if that could give us an advantage in the punting game,” Turner said.

It is also the view of Ayers that the team is good but lacking in a key area that is necessary for any type of program to achieve success.

“I truly believe we have by far one of the best overall teams, but to have the kind of talent as individuals is not the only thing that you need to be successful. The thing everyone needs to continue working on is getting closer to where we are more of a family and less of just a group of pieces,” Ayers said.

At this point, Ayers is on pace to end the season with 90 total punts. Those 90 punts would have him near the top of the nation for total punts and would have been second in the nation a year ago.

Ayers and the Panthers will travel to Hattiesburg, Miss this coming weekend to face the winless Golden Eagles of the University of Southern Mississippi. The Eagles have not won a game since a bowl win in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl over the University of Nevada on Dec. 24, 2011.

Following that game the Panthers will play host in the following week to the University of Alabama at Birmingham for the homecoming game.

About the Author

Rhys Williams
: Sports Director, Class of 2016, Physical Education: Coaching (Major), Communication Arts (Minor), Sports Enthusiast with a Focus on Football and Track & Field.

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