By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – To be clear, Tyler Campbell has not qualified for the Olympics.
If football punting was a sanctioned event he might, but for now he’s satisfied to take part in a different sort of Olympic training.
Campbell, the NCAA punting champion two years ago, is hopeful that a new form of weight training for the Rebels’ specialists can help him regain the form he showed when he average a national best 46.4 yards per kick in 2010.
He calls it “Olympic lifting,” and it’s a different approach inserted by new strength coach Paul Jackson and his staff.
“We haven’t had that before. I really feel like that’s helping my explosive movements, my leg strength and leg speed, and that should help my punting,” said Campbell, a senior from Little Rock.
Taking a dip
Campbell’s average dipped to 43.6 yards on 72 attempts last year. He did have a career-best 73-yarder.
His average still ranked him fifth in the SEC, less than 2 yards behind leader Dylan Breeding of Arkansas, who averaged 45.3 yards per attempt.
He received honorable mention All-SEC honors by the Associated Press.
Campbell attributes the slight decrease in average to an adjustment by the coaching staff that had him move more to the “rugby” style punt in which he would roll out to his right and kick on the run in an effort to get a bounce-and-roll and keep the ball away from would-be returners.
The goal of improving his net punting was achieved – Campbell had 28 punts downed inside the 20 as opposed to 19 the year before – but it didn’t feel natural.
The new staff’s focus has been more with Campbell in the traditional deep drop position.
“I feel like (rugby style) kind of altered my mechanics a little bit, the leg swing and running out to the side as far as going straight and kicking in conventional punting,” he said. “I’ve been working on conventional more now, and that’s where I feel more comfortable.”
The new approach to weight training has him excited as well. The Olympic style uses more quick movements than do the lifts often associated with beach bodies.