Bradley Boone got his NCAA Division I punting career off to a good start.
He didn’t see his first action until the fourth quarter of Morehead State University’s season opener against Kentucky Christian University because of the Eagles’ offensive dominance over the Knights, but sent his first punt 60 yards to the KCU 11-yard line.
His second, coming later in the game, traveled 67 yards and pinned the Knights on their own 10-yard line.
As the season progressed, the Mason County graduate struggled to continue booting balls that far, but he’s spent the summer working on his strength and consistency to put together a full season this fall.
“I started off really strong and confident. The first game really helped me out. We played KCU and I only punted twice because we didn’t need to punt much. The next week I think we played Liberty and then Austin Peay. For four or five games I was punting really well, but it kind of went downhill from there,” said Boone. “I started overthinking and got in my head and stuff. At the beginning I was punting really well, so it’s just consistency that I need to work on. I’m really working on that for a full season.”
Boone, a 6-foot-3, 217 pound redshirt junior, didn’t begin his career specifically in special teams.
Or at Morehead.
In his senior year with the Royals, Boone mainly split time playing quarterback and tight end. He completed 62-of-105 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns – all team highs – and caught one pass for 31 yards for the 8-3 Mason County team. He punted on the side, but never really worked on that aspect of his game.
His next stop was in the NAIA with Union College. He entered as a tight end and punter, but won the starting job on special teams and finished the season averaging 37.6 yards on 52 punts, landing 15 of those inside the 20-yard line.
But it wasn’t the right fit.
“I just didn’t feel at home at Union. Coming to Morehead, I didn’t know if I would play football at first,” said Boone. “I liked the area, I was used to it from sports in high school and it just felt like home for me. I wanted to play and ended up going out for team and made it.”
Like at Union, he was brought on at tight end and punter. He was forced to sit out his first season due to transfer rules, but played tight end on the Eagles’ scout team.
Entering the fall of last season, Boone worked more on his punting and was named the starter, sticking strictly to his special teams duties.
The Eagles went to Liberty University following their opener against KCU. Boone ended up punting seven times in the game for an average of 41.9 yards, landing one 56 yards and pinning Liberty inside their own 20 once. The next week in Clarksville, Tennessee, Boone had four punts for an average of 43 yards. He sent two longer than 50 yards and put two inside the 20-yard line.
The Eagles picked up a 34-28 win over Dayton in the fourth game of the season. Boone kept up his strong punting, averaging 43 yards on his six kicks in the game. Like the previous week, he sent two over 50 yards and put two inside the 20-yard line.
He also got to showcase his old quarterback skills in the contest, completing a pass on a fake for 20 yards. He completed his second pass of the season about a month later when Morehead hosted Stetson, this time for 32 yards. Between the two colleges he’s played at, he’s completed all three passes he’s attempted for 66 yards.
“Being able to throw the ball and make the right decision if I have to gives me an edge in that department,” said Boone. “We had a lot of fakes in last year. We worked on them and ended up running two.”
Boone continued punting well in his fifth game against Campbell University. He punted five times for an average of 42.4 yards with a long of 55 yards.
In his first five games, Boone punted 24 times for an average of 44.25 yards. He sent eight of those over 50 yards and landed eight inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. The top average among FCS punters this season was 46.7 yards. If he was able to maintain the average he posted through the first five games, Boone would have landed sixth in FCS.
However, Boone’s average dropped as he was unable to stay consistent. He says he got in his own head, was over adjusting and his average, and role, dropped. He failed to send a punt over 50 yards the remainder of the season and landed only two inside the 20-yard line in the final five games he played. In his final game against Marist, Boone punted just once before being replaced by Andrew Foster for the remainder of the contest and Morehead State’s final game against Davidson.
With his potential shown early last season, Boone has been spending the summer working on strength, flexibility and staying consistent. Last year, he worked with former Ohio State kicker Tim Williams and he’s been focusing on what the former Buckeye taught him. He says he usually goes out a few times a week, mostly at Mason County’s field, to work on his punting. He plans to increase the amount the closer he gets to the start of camp on August 1, with hopes of going in with a clean slate and a steady foot.
“I’ve just got to be consistent. I’m starting over fresh going into this fall and just working on my craft this fall. I’m working on those things, leg strength, getting in better condition, different stuff like that,” said Boone. “I’m just working on all aspects to help me going into the fall.”
Morehead State is scheduled to start the season at Eastern Kentucky on August 30. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.