Johnston Seizes Starting Punter Spot

By Michael Citro on August 9, 2013 at 11:30a
117 Comments

How to speak Australian: Cameron Johnston = freshman starting punter.

Australian for punter.Cameron Johnston is your new No. 1 punter.

As we told you back in June, 21-year-old former Australian Rules Football player Cameron Johnston is Ohio State’s new starting punter. Although it seemed the spot would come down to a competition between Johnston and senior kicker Drew Basil, Urban Meyer confirmed that the Aussie from Geelong — near Melbourne — has emerged as the team’s top foot.

“He is our No. 1 guy,” Meyer said. “The first day was ridiculous…a one-shot wonder. The second day he was okay and the third day he was okay. But he’s got a live leg and he’s a tremendous kid.”

Johnston came out of the Melbourne-based punter/kicker training ground Prokick Australia, where he trained under the tutelage of Nathan Chapman. Chapman whetted our appetite back in June when he told the Columbus Dispatch how impressive Johnston’s leg is.

“He has an explosive leg unlike anything that I think anyone at Ohio State will have seen”

The Buckeyes were fortunate to land Johnston’s services. The Australian was also considering joining Alabama in 2014. But Ohio State had an opening in 2013, so Johnston signed his letter of intent this summer and is now wearing No. 95 for the Buckeyes. (And a punter wearing a number in the 90s is all kinds of awesome.) Despite his age and background, he’s still considered a freshman under NCAA rules and he will have four years of eligibility.

Signing Johnston became critical when Johnny Townsend de-committed in February and signed with the Florida Gators instead. You may recall that Townsend, out of Orlando’s Boone High School, had a change of heart when he got a late offer from Will Muschamp. He decided to stay local and join his brother Clay with the Gators. For a few months Ohio State was a team without a true punter.

Chapman originally brought Johnston to the OSU coaching staff’s attention in September of last year, but the Buckeyes were content to stick with Townsend. When Townsend didn’t stick with them, it was time to revisit the Aussie. Although he lived on the other side of the world and had never played American football before, video of Johnston opened some eyes at the WHAC.

Earlier this week, Johnston was booming his punts in camp. He was dropping jaws and dropping many of his kicks inside the 10 and the 5. The team has been working on rolling him out some and, based on his athleticism and Australian Rules Football background, we should expect a trick play at some point.

“He’s a live guy,” Meyer said. “He’s a fast athlete so we might be able to do some things with him in the pocket.”

The Galloping Greek can kick too.Frank Epitropoulos takes some punting reps in camp. Just in
case. Drew Basil also continues to get reps at punter.

The biggest adjustment for Johnston will be facing a live defense, hell bent on blocking his kicks. Reports from camp (h/t to our own Kyle Rowland for killing it with the camp info) say that Johnston did struggle a bit the first time he faced the rush. Expect the coaching staff to crank up the pressure to 11 to ensure he’s ready for his first kick in a game situation. Remember, this is a staff that surrounded Drew Basil and made him kick out of the midst of a screaming crowd.

Because he’s played Australian Rules Football in front of crowds before, it shouldn’t take Johnston long to adjust to punting under pressure. Having a quick long snapper like Bryce Haynes should help. Haynes is adept at getting the ball off quickly.

Brad Wing’s successful career at LSU has opened the door for Australians looking to break into American football. Johnston is joined in the Big Ten by fellow countryman Christian Eldred — a junior who kicks for Minnesota. Eldred is also an alum of the Prokick Australia program.

Kickers at Prokick Australia go through a 12-month training program to get ready for the jump to the American game. The program has been highly successful. Alex Dunnachie of Hawaii was fourth in the nation in punting average last year, with a 46.2-yard average. Tom Hornsey of Memphis was 19th in the country.

Johnston should be just fine.

117 Comments

Comments

buckeyepastor's picture

"Seized the job?"  That's what he's here for.  I like Drew Basil, but I'm sure that the coaches were not excited about having their PK also taking on punting duties unless absolutely necessary.  I don't even know if Drew Basil wanted to PK and punt.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

hit_the_couch's picture

He has Lebron's hairline.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

hodge's picture

This article reads like explicit fanfic to Jim Tressel.

jkrk's picture

Do you mean "by Jim Tressel"?

hodge's picture

No, if Tress wrote it it'd be a hell of a lot more intense:

"The Aussie's leg muscles, glistening in the hot midday sun, tenses as he awaits the snap.  His was the most important job of all: pinning the offense deep, flipping the field position.  Thoughts of a perfectly-executed coffin corner danced through his head, sweat cascading across his brow as the cadence called out.  
The ball, sailing like a cannonball from his trusty longsnapper, seems to travel in slow-motion to the glistening ginger.  As it meets his supple hands, the process begins: like a Rube Goldberg machine, his body springs in to action as tendons and ligaments expand and contract in a glorious, symphony.  The sweat on his shin seems to freeze in time as he drops the ball toward his right foot--a mechanical process executed with the most sublime grace--then exploding outwards, dancing across the sky as the ball bursts forth.  Like a bullet, it screams into the air, flying downfield like a bat out of Hell towards the sidelines, angled to drop out at the opponent's five.
The ovoid pigskin sails out of bounds, dancing as it lands--the spot is marked at the three.  His task complete, the Aussie seems to almost hang motionless for a moment--the clumsiness of his posture contrasting the physical perfection his execution--he exhales, gathers himself, and sets off toward the sideline.  Sitting his muscular buttocks against the cold steel bench, he relaxes--the afterglow's almost ethereal, but it's one shared by the rest of the team.  Soon it will fade, but only until the next Buckeye drive stalls, when that handsome ginger will be called upon again..."

bedheadjc's picture

I feel dirty now.

81Alum's picture

Wow, you need to get a job as a writer (if you are not already one). That was a masterpeice.

Michael Citro's picture

glistening ginger

 

Oh man. If I ever start a band, this is its name.

Young_Turk's picture

You thought of a band? 
I thought of me (as Gilligan), rubbing coconut oil on Ginger (and MaryAnn) as they sunbathe.

BierStube's picture

Sadly, I thought the same thing!  Man can that Hodge bring words to life!

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

Earle's picture

Nicely done, though if Tressel had actually written it, I would expect it to have some "and so forths", and things of that nature.

jkrk's picture

Amazing. "The glistening ginger, and so forth."

DannyBeane's picture

Well I'm all hot and bothered now.

jkrk's picture

Outstanding. As soon as I left my comment I thought "wow, do I really want to go there?" And you did. And I realized no. I don't want to go there. But it was so worth it.

Frostybuck88's picture

Righteous!

The Dude abides...

Urban Nation Army's picture


damn.

Bet you can't say "Bert Bielma is a bumbling buffoon" five times fast.

nfischer's picture

This is how I imagine  a 50 Shades of Gray version for men would read.

Alpo's picture

Good call Fisch, hodge is a literary icon! Get's me every time...

pjtobin's picture

This is amazing. Thank you very much for writing this Hodge. I laughed a few times reading it. And laughed a few more reading the comments. Thanks be to all who helped make today a great day. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

harleymanjax's picture

You could find this in the porn for punters section of your local adult video store!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

thowen79's picture

 

Hey now, be careful using that type of language ;)
 

Kindell's picture

It's good to see that he is working out and it's a good opportunity for these kids in Australia.  With that being said, I hope I don't see him much this year.

Idaho Helga's picture

Agreed.   Except don't you get a free kick after a safety?
Very impressive video and got to love the height as well as the distance.  The FAA might make him register a few of those.

OSUBias's picture

Wait...you're hoping we get safetied? Cuz that's the only time he would be kicking the free kick?#confused

Slider...you stink

Idaho Helga's picture

Read this when tired, which is why I asked about the free kick. I should have checked before I posted.  I was thinking after a safety the offense got it back after a free kick.  No, that wouldn't make sense thinking about it.  Frankly, I'm heading to bed now so I see where you  are probably right.  I can't say where I've seen more than 10 safeties on the fields in my life, but I do know, it's an "I" in the "OHIO" thingy.   That's where I've seen them most!   :)
 
Heck, I was just looking for a way for a punter to be more of a positive thing instead of a way to get us out of a negative thing.  #tiredandforgetsthesafetyrules
 

unknownmusketeer's picture

Unless he is returning the kick or part of the blocking, he won't get on the field after we get a safety.

zachofaltrades's picture

Getting a 4 year starter is awesome. 

Alpo's picture

Totally agree, but with that kind of leg, might not have him for 4 years

ChazBuckeye's picture

After watching his highlight video I knew he'd be OSU's punter. As long as he could duplicate what he did on that tape and it appears he has;-)  It's going to be hard for teams to get good field position on us, which is pretty cool.

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

jdagrava.1's picture

Just another fine addition to Meyer's class and the "Freak Show"/"Piranhas" special teams unit.  I hope to see this kid sprint past a defender into the endzone on a fake at some point this year.  Go Bucks!  22 Days!!!!!!!!

"It takes a little something special to be a great player.  What you got in you, we're going to find out.  And if there's a touch of greatness in there, how cool would that be?"

-Urban F. Meyer

whobdis's picture

This is a pretty cool story..I guess Urban has no limits to where he'll look for players. I have to say I've never been this interested in seeing how the first punt looks. (let's hope it's after several TD's though)

Crimson's picture

Actually, Urban's first possession will have the KR/PR down it at the 1, and the first play after will be a punt.  You know, just for the lulz.
For the love of lulz!
Our Urban: what a joker.

stittracer99's picture

Just the right amount of praise and motivation in Meyer's comments, as per usual. Excited to see this kid kick the guts out of the ball this fall when he gets his chance. Gotta like the idea of a tough Aussie rules guy that can be a wild card in fake situations.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

If we do ever have to punt, I'd kinda like to see him lay the wood on some poor return man, bad-ass Aussie style. 

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

bedheadjc's picture

I was just thinking about that and how the discussion with Johnson went about tackling:
"No PADS? You're fine, do what you do. Don't kill anyone."

Earle's picture

the Aussie from Geelong 

There HAS to be a nickname there somewhere...

Buckeyeneer's picture

What was the name of the Aussie kicker in the movie The Replacements?

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes
THE Ohio State University

hodge's picture

"I'M NOT A MICK! I'M BLOODY WELSH!"
Nigel Gruff was his name, but he hailed from Wales--just like the actor who portrayed him, Rhys Ifans.

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

It was Nigel, and he was Welsh (Hodge, I think we posted at the exact same time LOL)

"I think that guy's smoking on the field!" - John Madden

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Buckeyeneer's picture

Thanks Hodge and Ibleed. Its been a while since, I've watched that one.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes
THE Ohio State University

aboynamedtracy's picture

I'm kinda partial to The Wallabeast.

Hovenaut's picture

Our punter looks like the Heat Mizer in that shot.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

bedheadjc's picture

"...Twisted fire starter..."

Edincostarica's picture

LOL!!!  You're right.

toad1204's picture

So what your saying is if he rolls out and the blockers are pancaking the defense he may tuck and run?  LOVE IT.

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

KingsRite's picture

Another dangerous weapon. Love it!

“I have yet to be in a game where luck was involved. Well-prepared players make plays. I have yet to be in a game where the most prepared team didn't win.” -Urban Meyer-

BuckeyeVet's picture

Earle - How about "Aussie Go-long" ?

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."          - Groucho Marx 
 

Earle's picture

Not bad, but would be better for a wide-out or QB. 
It makes me think of Holly Golightly, though.

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Besides the fact that Johnston looks like the real deal, does anyone else love the fact that Urban beat saban (note the small "s") in getting this guy? Anyone?, anyone?, Bueller?

cbusbuckeye's picture

You misspelled satan

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Just wondering......is it considered bad form to capitalize satan?

Jabba the Hoke's picture

I must be football starved, I just watched a 6 minute video of a punter practicing. Is it the 31st yet?

DannyBeane's picture

I watched 6 minutes of a 12 minute video of a longsnapper snapping the ball before I had a moment of clarity.

idontsmellgood's picture

Is his hair actually on fire???

Buckeye in Illini country's picture


He's on fire!

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!

bodast67's picture

Don't feel bad JABBA, I just watched 11 minutes of the long snapper

 

 

 

     " I hope when I die, I die laughing"...                

Jabba the Hoke's picture

HAHAHA, I feel much better knowing I'm not alone. But for real 60+ yards with 5 second hang time? We'll be alright IF we need to punt.

avail31678's picture

Sheesh - I was glad when Urban proved he was going to reach out more nationally with his recruiting.  Now Urban's done gone global!

AJW_16's picture

Congrats Cam!

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

dja.ohio's picture

I remember a couple of tOSU punters in the past 15-20 years having the first punt attempt of their careers being blocked. I think the Aussie will handle the pressure just fine.  I also think it's nice for the football program to have him on the team and be exposed to the different culture. Should be a great learning experience for everyone.  I look forward to Johnston having a successful career in Columbus.
I miss the early days of ESPN with their wall to wall late night Aussie Rules Football. Geelong vs. Essendon - yah baby!

WC Buckeye's picture

To set things up right, for posterity I think his first punt attempt should be a FAKE, no matter what happens yardage-wise. Want to see some coaches game-preparing differently just because of what he might do. Muahahaha.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

yrro's picture

Would really love to add an option fake call. As in, the punter gets the snap, rolls out - if he sees grass ahead of him, he runs, if he doesn't, he punts. Seems like it could be a great option in mid-field, mid-yardage situations.

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

Can't wait to get his jersey!

avail31678's picture

Urban:  "We're going for it - let's do a fake punt.  Cameron, we really need to convert this Fourth Down!"
Cameron: "Too right!  No worrries, mate.  I'll speed right by these bloats.  I'll make them look like they've gone walkabout.  After we win we'll bend the elbow with a cold one!  Good onya, coach!"
 
I...just...am really excited about this guy, and I just really like hearing Australians talk.

81Alum's picture

You have the aussie lingo down pat.

chitown buckeye's picture

Well done! Even I can read that in a crazy good Aussie accent!

"I'm having a heart attack!"

avail31678's picture

Bloke is a legit slang word....but I think I've heard bloat too.
n. A term of contempt for a worthless, dissipated fellow
http://www.wordnik.com/words/bloat
 
 

avail31678's picture

All of those words must be related.  Hoke is bloated, Hoke rhymes with bloke..
Hoke the bloated bloke.

Otown Buckeye's picture

We will call him the "Bloomin Onion". 

"because we couldn't go for three"

Geraffi's picture

Boomin' Onion. His hair fits the name. 

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Winner winner Outback dinner!

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Johnston...Australian for Buckeye punt bombs.
This dude is gonna wail.  I'm looking forward to his first fake as well - I'm guessing he's going to truck someone then out run the rest.

tennbuckeye19's picture

I think I'm gonna go to the Outback to celebrate this occasion. 
#norulesjustright #shrimponthebarbie #maybethedingoateyourbaby #otheraustralianhashtags

Earle's picture

I kinda like The Dingo as a nickname: 
The Dingo ate my field position!!
#youcallthatapuntthisisapunt

BierStube's picture

I hope he acts like this Dingo!

 

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

Jabba the Hoke's picture

I think that was a Florida linebacker barking at the police dog.

oh_dad55's picture

That's some serious action.  
Almost as fast as Roby going after a ball that would result in a touchdown if caught.

Oh_Dad

buckeyeEddie27's picture

#iseeyouveplayedknifeypuntybefore

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

dja.ohio's picture

TBDBITL can start practicing 'Waltzing Matilda' for punts inside the 10.
http://youtu.be/VEVKUE_ma00

Geraffi's picture

Fantastic idea!

AndyVance's picture

That is genius. Love it.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

That damn song will be in my head for months now.  Good idea though

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

Kaceybrown's picture

Back back back back back back..... Gone!!! 

Geraffi's picture

Good on ya, Cameron! Welcome to American footie. 

Earle's picture

Another entry in the nickname sweepstakes:  Kickaburra
It comes with a song...
Kickaburra kicks in Ohio's Shoe
Does so many things other punters can't do
Punt, Kickaburra!
Punt, Kickaburra!
Coombs has water for you!
 
I have never been so geeked about a punter (said Jim Tressel never).

Urban Nation Army's picture


brilliant.

Bet you can't say "Bert Bielma is a bumbling buffoon" five times fast.

Crimson's picture

Anyone else have the original tune playing in their head with new lyrics?  No?  Just me.

buckskin's picture

We're stretching, and you're a kicker!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
oh yeah, I'm ready to see this guy after Coombs gets done with him.  Tressel is probably shedding a tear somewhere near Akron.

zbd's picture


His biggest problem will probably be getting all that football gear on. Aussies play in their underwear with a cut off skin tight top.  The bloke can kick.
                   

tennbuckeye19's picture

Since he comes from a land down under, I bet this kid loves Men at Work. 

BuckeyeSouth's picture

I didn't realize this was possible, but I'm nervous & excited at the same time.  Once he gets off that first booming punt, I'm sure my nervousness will go away.

Embrace it.

urbanwarfare's picture

As much as I'm excited for the kid, I hope his primary job is to remain hydrated on the sidelines and only seeing him on the field 1 to 2 times. Oie oie oie

rdubs's picture

Can we request he go to all future media days that OSU participates in?  Our 2014 kicker is originally from Germany I believe, so all kinds of international flair!!

hspbuy1's picture

the foot down under

hspbuy1

45has2's picture

Man, this only adds to the excitement for this upcoming season. I can't wait to see what UFM comes up with for Johnston. He's used to getting hit with no pads so I'm sure he doesn't shy away from contact. GO BUCKS.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

oh_dad55's picture

Looks like a mixed martial arts type.  
I wonder how he'll take the grind at Ackerman.

Oh_Dad

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great news!  Glad to hear that he's doing really well! Can't wait to see him in the games. 

pjtobin's picture

It seems that we all are excited to see this young man go to work. Isn't that awesome. We are even pumped about a kicker! I am excited. I just got my tickets to the Buffalo game. Sweet!

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

2002osubuck's picture

I saw when we first got him, that he runs a 4.5 or 4.4 40 yd dash time, which if true , would allow him to run it on any given punt. Not a bad option, considering urban will definitely run, at least, one fake this year. Hopefully don't need to be in that situation but will be nice to know we have a guy that's capable to do that if need be.

Roger's picture

The Shoe from The 'Shoe.

Jugdish's picture

Man At Work - "He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich"

Remember to get your wolverine spade or neutered. TBDBITL

Hovenaut's picture

It's what's for dinner.

Well, maybe not at Casa Del Hovenaut, but somewhere.....

Quick! While Aussies are awake, post hi-res pictures of Vegemite

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

Jugdish's picture

Traveling in a fried-out combie

Remember to get your wolverine spade or neutered. TBDBITL

buckeyedude's picture

He's an Aussie? Must be related to Crocodile Dundee.
Put another shrimp on the barbie.
I really hope this dude gets a chance to talk at every post game interview, along with Meyer and Braxton. I'd watch that every time.

 

 

KingsRite's picture

That's not a punt...THIS IS A PUNT! 

“I have yet to be in a game where luck was involved. Well-prepared players make plays. I have yet to be in a game where the most prepared team didn't win.” -Urban Meyer-

KingsRite's picture

YouTube Video of his punting > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c4dtOnnJQY
Ray Guy would be proud!
 

“I have yet to be in a game where luck was involved. Well-prepared players make plays. I have yet to be in a game where the most prepared team didn't win.” -Urban Meyer-

KingsRite's picture

“I have yet to be in a game where luck was involved. Well-prepared players make plays. I have yet to be in a game where the most prepared team didn't win.” -Urban Meyer-

1967Buck's picture

  Wow....What a leg.

BeijingBucks's picture

These comments. Pure Gold on a thread for a Kicker!  Only at tOSU
#GeelongGinger

 

 

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

vitaminB's picture

I thought the headline said he had a seizure while punting. 

wolfman's picture

I can't believe I am getting excited about a punter!

AndyVance's picture

For some reason, this thread made me think of this image I spied over on the legendary Bucksfan icon thread... Cheers!