Replacing punter crucial for Vandy – Nick Cole

By Nick Cole
| The Tennessean

While much of the talk in Vanderbilt’s fall camp is about replacing Jordan Rodgers and Zac Stacy, the Commodores may have a bigger concern in replacing All-SEC punter Richard Kent.

Kent ranked 10th nationally with a 44.9-yard average and punted the ball 206 times for Vanderbilt over the last three seasons.

“I think that is a huge piece of the puzzle right now,” Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said after Friday’s practice. “Last year you could make an argument that Richard was our MVP. He did a great job and was consistent and is getting a chance at the next level (Chargers) right now because of it.

“It is going to be important to see who wins this job. I like that we have some competition.”

The candidates are redshirt freshman Colby Cooke and junior Taylor Hudson.

Neither has punted in a game for the Commodores, but that is not something that concerns special teams coach Charles Bankins.

“Colby gave up being a freshman after Christmas,” Bankins said. “We have one of the better punt return teams in the country, so he has faced some of the best pressure he is going to face in practice.”

Cooke and Hudson have punted nearly 200 balls per practice in the first couple of days.

“I definitely think there is a big role to fill here and it has to be done by me and Taylor because we’re the only two punters right now,” Cooke said.