It’s probably true that Tennessee football placed a heavier emphasis on special teams under Butch Jones than they do under Jeremy Pruitt. But that was only in the return game. The Vols are still continuing their tradition of Punter U.
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That goes back to Phillip Fulmer, and Pruitt kept it up by finding a redshirt freshman walk-on in Joe Doyle last year to beat out a highly touted freshman in Paxton Brooks. That’s very similar to Trevor Daniel when Jones found him back in 2015.
Doyle did not disappoint either. He averaged 41.1 yards a punt, sent 12 of his 65 attempts sailing 50 yards or more, including a 71-yarder, and had 23 points downed inside the 20 yard line. Oh, he also had 28 fair-caught.
Because of his efforts, numerous services recognized Doyle as a freshman All-American. There is nobody else on this list who was recognized last year and will be the only guy getting recognized at that position this year. Even Bryce Thompson is at the mercy of how many times quarterbacks throw his way. Doyle will take every punt.
Also, history on Rocky Top shows that punters make major leaps their sophomore seasons. That’s when Dustin and Britton Colquitt both exploded onto the scene, as they were inconsistent their freshman years. The same was true for Doyle.
Simply put, if he gets more consistent as almost every punter does their second year, there is hardly anything holding Doyle back from becoming a star. As long as he continues to hold off Brooks, who will be the kickoff specialist, he’s good. And by being at the top of this list, he continues the tradition of Punter U on Rocky Top.