This post continues a series picking an All-Decade Team. Over the summer, we'll be honoring the best players Carolina has had at each position over the past ten years. We'll also give shout-outs to some of the other memorable players we've had. In our last installment of this series, I picked Ryan Succup as our top placekicker.
This week, we're looking at punters. The punter is usually an unsung hero, but his importance should not be understated. A punter who can consistently get a good punt off and can occasionally pin the opposing offense against its own endzone can have a significant impact on the outcome of a game. Remember in 2008 when we played Georgia and the Dawgs' offense couldn't get much going in the second half but their punter kept booming 50+ yarders that seemed to negate our defense's strong play and make things tough on our offense? That's a good example of what a punter can do to impact a game.
Carolina has fielded four principle punters over the past 10 years: Tyeler Dean, Josh Brown, Ryan Succop, and Spencer Lanning. These players notched the following basic statistics over the course of their careers:
Tyeler Dean (2001 / 42.4 ypp, 2002 / 42.4 ypp)
Josh Brown (2003 / 40.5 ypp, 2004 / 38.9 ypp, 2005 / 40 ypp)
Ryan Succup (2006 / 43.7 ypp, 2007 / 41.8 ypp)
Spencer Lanning (2008 / 42.1 ypp, 2009 / 41.9, 2010 / 44.1 ypp)
Brown is statistically the worst on this list, and what you're not seeing here is that he was also less than impressive in punts placed inside the 20. He also had multiple kicks blocked, particularly in his forgettable 2004 campaign. Dean was a pretty good punter, but not quite on Succop or Lanning's level.
Between Succop and Lanning, I'd give the edge to Lanning. First of all, Lanning has a longer tenure and held steady over all three years. Second of all, Lanning's 2010 season was one for the ages. Averaging 44.1 ypp and placing 18 inside the 20 is definitely something to crow about for a punter. And who can forget all the great punts he kicked against Clemson last year? He definitely did his part to help us embarrass the Tigers in that game.
By the way, could someone please send Steve Spurrier a video of this fake punt?
The Most Awesome Fake Punt Ever (via imWhite7)
Brilliant. Certainly beats that crap we ran against Arkansas last year.