Dudley E. Dawson is a reporter for Hawgs Illustrated. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Transfer punter/kicker Loy sees big opportunity at Arkansas
Vanderbilt punter Sam Loy kicks against Florida during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida won 38-24. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
FAYETTEVILLE Former Vanderbilt and Colorado punter/kickoff specialist Sam Loy is thrilled to be back in the SEC.
Loy (6-1, 190), the starting punter for the Commodores his freshman and sophomore seasons, enrolled at Arkansas on July 1, is immediately eligible and will have two years to punt for the Razorbacks.
He publicly announced that he was a Razorback earlier this week.
“I missed the SEC,” Loy said. “The best teams, best players and the best fans. I jumped at the chance to come back. I am fortunate to have a chance to play in the Southeastern Conference again.”
Loy, who played his last season of high school football for Santa Margarita Catholic in San Clemente, Calif., after playing the three previous seasons at San Clemente High, will have a chance to both punt and kick off for Arkansas and coach Chad Morris.
“Coach Morris and the strength staff helped a lot with me deciding to come to Arkansas, as well as the nutrition staff,” Loy said. “…I had interest from a Big 10 school, a Pac 12 school, a Big 12 school as well as some other smaller Division I schools.”
Loy was tabbed as a five-star prospect and the nation’s top senior punter by Kornblue Kicking service.
“I was like most high school specialists given that I did all three - punt, kickoff, placekick,” Loy said. “So, me being able to earn the punting and kickoff job here was an important reason for me to come here.”
Loy had punts of 69 and 75 yards his senior season and dropped 15 of his 35 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line during that same campaign.
He also allowed just one of his 51 kickoffs as a senior to be returned.
Loy averaged 41.6 yards per punt for Vanderbilt in 2016, had 20 punts of over 50 yards and a long of 67 while being named to the SEC’s All-Freshman team.
Loy averaged 40.2 yards as a sophomore before deciding to leave Vanderbilt and head to Colorado, where he redshirted last season.
During his two years at Vanderbilt, Loy had 34 punts that were fair caught and 34 more that were downed inside the 20, but also had some trouble with fumbles.
“Punting is much harder than it looks from the outside,” Loy said. “You strive to be consistent and have balanced punts with good distance and hang time as to not to outkick your coverage. And it’s something you’re always working at and improving.”
Loy chose to leave Colorado after head coach Mike McIntyre was fired.
He is immediately eligible because of NCAA rule 2018-103, which allows walk-ons to transfer without sitting out a season.
“I joined the team on July 1 and I am presently taking classes and practicing now for the upcoming season,” Loy said.
Loy will battle Reid Bauer (38.9-yard average) for the punting job and compete for the kickoff spot against Connor Limpert, who had 23 touchbacks among his 59 kickoffs last season.
Arkansas' opponents averaged 11.6 yards per punt return last season. In Loy's two years at Vanderbilt, teams averaged 7.4 yards per return.
He has spent the past year at Colorado working on his consistency.
“It’s really important to be consistent,” Loy said. “If you don’t have that consistency then it doesn’t matter how strong your leg is because if you can’t hit your best ball 8 out of 10 times or more, which is what really matters in the special teams world.
“Out of the very small amount of chances we get to have a large impact on the game we must be competing at our best for the 10 or less plays the punters/kickers get compared to a quarterback or wide receiver who has the ball or had opportunities to make big plays around 70-plus times per game.”
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