Nov. 2, 2011
Senior punter and kickoff man Ryan Quigley sat down with us to talk about everything from the art of punting to his reaction to the pre-Halloween snowstorm.
Q: You played soccer and basketball in high school. How did you end up choosing to be a punter and kickoff man in college?
A: In high school, I definitely enjoyed basketball and soccer the most. But when it came down to it, I wasn’t fast enough or able to jump high enough to play basketball or soccer at the next level. In my junior year, my high school coaches came and told me that punting and kicking was something I could do. My goal my whole childhood—I was a big sports fan, loved Division I sports—was to play for a college team. So punting and kicking worked out. I was able to get some interest, and that’s how it went.
Q: You led the ACC in punting yards last year (3,282) and surpassed 10,000 career punting yards this season against Virginia Tech. Is this a stat you want to have and what do you think it says about you?
A: Everybody talks about that stat, but it’s something I really can’t control. If the team needs me to go out there and punt, that’s my job and I have to go out there and do it. I think our team would say they don’t want to see me on the field, and I agree, but whenever I’m needed to go out there, I do. I definitely prefer to look at other stats, but it’s just one of those things.
Q: What stats do you prefer to look at?
A: As a punter, you definitely focus on your net, your average and your field position, like putting it inside the 20 or inside the 10. It’s all about field position in football so that’s what I try to focus on. If I’m doing that then I’m doing a good job, but I can always improve on those stats. [This year, Quigley has an average of 38.8 yards and has had 15 punts land inside the 20-yard line. Last year, he averaged 41.5 yards a punt and led the ACC in punts inside the 20 with 26.]
Q: Is it harder to kick a shorter or a longer punt?
A: That’s a good question. Lately for me it’s been the shorter punts that I’ve been struggling with. In the past, the shorter punts have been my strength. People don’t realize when you get down on your side of the field and the end zone is that close, it really gets into your head because you really have to shorten up your swing and position it well because they can easily return it still. So I can say the shorter punts are definitely the hardest.
Q: As a punter and kickoff man, what do you think your role on the team is, and how are you able to still connect to your teammates playing such a specialized position?
A: That’s something that I’ve had to learn, especially at this level because, as you know, punters and kickers are asked to do certain things. We definitely don’t do the same things as the other players. Each year, I find how important field position is and how important it is to put points on the board whenever we can. We have a great group of guys, great teammates, and they treat us like any other guy, as part of the team. As the special teams, our job is to earn the respect of our teammates by working hard, going out there and practicing every day, trying to do as well as we can so when the team puts us in that position to contribute, we can. Each time we go out on the field, we can’t mess up. You have to be perfect.
Q: Can you tell me a little about how you’ve been mentoring fellow South Carolinian kicker/punter Alex Howell to be your successor?
A: Alex is a great kid. I was really happy to hear we were recruiting him last year. [Howell is a freshman.] I’ve been helping him since we both came from the same background, same area. So everything that I experienced coming in here, I’m able to tell him how to deal with things like the cold, the coaches and the practices. Anything I can do to help him out, I’ve tried to be able to do. He’s a great kid, he’s just like me, and he’s going to do well here.
Q: Being from South Carolina, what do you think about it snowing before Halloween?
A: Oh my goodness, I was going crazy. Last week, the practice building up to the Maryland game, it was 40 degrees, raining, and then we look at the forecast and see snow. Even in Maryland there was snow. I was like oh my goodness what’s going on? As a kicker and punter, I can honestly say I’m not a fan of the snow. It does not help.
Q: What were you for Halloween?
A: We got back at 11:30 at night, and, of course, like everything, my buddies and I didn’t plan ahead. This year, my buddy who was still here went out and bought some t-shirts and painted our nicknames with letters from Words with Friends on the shirts. It was nowhere near what everybody else was doing and didn’t look as good, but it allowed us to go out and see friends. It wasn’t my idea.
Interview by Jen Dobias