By Cole Deutschendorf / Staff Writer
There are many different positions in football, all of them important. Some positions get more credit than others, whether it’s quarterbacks or wide receivers on the offensive side, or defensive backs and linebackers on the defensive side.
But one aspect of football is often neglected – special teams.
Special teams is one of the most important parts of football, and one of the most vilified positions within special teams are punters. They are almost never talked about unless they are doing a poor job, essentially never getting credit for the work that they put in off and on the field.
Alfonso Deleon is a sophomore from Shreveport, Louisiana, and is currently the starting punter for the Hutchinson Community College football team.
Deleon transferred from Southern Arkansas University to HutchCC in an effort to see himself be utilized more. He has made an impact as a punter this year, including being named the Jayhawk Conference special teams player of the week for his performance against Garden City, in which he punted nine times, averaging over 40 yards per punt and downing four punts inside the 20-yard line.
He said that winning that award has only driven him to work harder.
“It helps a lot with my confidence. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to focus on punting specifically, so it was exciting, and it definitely motivates me to work harder,” Deleon said.
For Deleon, the biggest challenge of punting are the mental challenges that present itself. In the Blue Dragons game against Independence, he struggled in the first half, partly due to the wind. “Since I was punting against the wind, my confidence wasn’t that high,” Deleon said. “But as the game went on, I knew I had to get over that and do something for the team, and that’s what I ended up doing.”
More than anything else, Deleon wants people to know that punting is not an easy position to perfect.
“It really takes a lot of practice to be good. Not everyone can hit the same consistent ball,” he said.
Special teams coordinator Andrew Krause says that the biggest quality HutchCC looks for in punters is their dependability. “A guy establishes himself as being dependable in his work ethic and his work habits and his practice habits,” Krause said. “If you don’t have a dependable punter, you’re setting yourself up for failure.”
Krause thinks that punters need to be more appreciated.
“It takes a lot of courage to be a punter. You’ve got guys running full speed at you trying to block the punt, so you have to be brave,” he said.
Krause will continue to push Deleon into being the best version of himself, and is proud of the player he is becoming.
“Character wise, his work ethic is his best quality. He works very hard at all of those little things, like receiving the ball, getting it handled, getting the right grip,” Krause said.Deleon hopes to continue his strong play for the remainder of the season, and show everyone why punters deserve more respect as people and as players.