Photoshop Phriday: Blake O’Neill
It is no secret that when it comes to football I am a big fan of special teams, especially punting. There is a Zoltan Mesko jersey that hangs above my desk. I’m the guy that nominates kickers in a fantasy football draft because those are the players I know the most about. In the offseason Michigan brought on board new special teams coach John Baxter and this spring announced the addition of graduate transfer Blake O’Neill. O’Neill is one of an increasing number of Australians making their way into ranks of college and pro football punters. He played his first season of American football last year at Weber State. Last week O’Neill showed off to Michigan fans what he could do when he pinned Utah inside the 5 yard line with this great delayed punt.
For those unfamiliar Australian rules football (Go Hawks!) is a magical sport in which punting is the main way of advancing the ball. Aussie rules players are able to kick in a variety of styles with incredible accuracy. Darren Bennett was one of the first and most successful Australian punters to transition to the NFL (Mat McBriar, Sav Rocca, and Brad Wing are others). Last week O’Neill was pitted against fellow Aussie Tom Hackett of Utah, who last year won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter. I’m excited to see what O’Neill does the rest of the season, and just how far he can punt a loaf of potato bread (Photo credit to Bryan Fuller).