He's only punted 26 times all season, but that hasn't stopped Cameron Johnston from being among the most efficient punters in the nation. On Friday, he earned recognition for his efforts, as he was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award.
As little as five months ago, Ohio State fretted about what the punting situation would be this season. Nightmare scenarios ran through Urban Meyer's head after one-time commit Johnny Townsend spurned the Buckeyes for Florida. But the problem was solved after Johnston, a YouTube sensation, committed to Ohio State during the summer.
Punters often go unnoticed until they do something bad. Well, Johnston's performance has been impossible to ignore this season, and it has nothing to do with blocked punts or shanks. It wasn't until late in the fourth quarter of the fifth game that he even surrendered a return yard. On that night against Wisconsin, Johnston pinned the Badgers inside the 20 on all six punts and inside the 10 on five. It earned the 21-year-old freshman his first Big Ten special teams player of the week award.
On the season, Johnston is averaging 41 yard per boot with a long of 61. The three yards he allowed to Jared Abbrederis remain the lone return yards against the Buckeyes all season.
But the statistics don't end there. Johnston's rate at pinning opponents inside the 20- and 10-yard line is the stuff of All-Americans. He's second in the nation at placing the ball inside the 20 (61.5 percent) and third at dropping the ball inside the 10 (26.9 percent).
“If we want to ooh and aah, we can do that any time,” special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs said. “At the same time, teams that do that have returns that are extreme. We want to cover kicks. We want to split the field and make sure other teams don’t return the ball.”