Tyler Hunter took over as Florida State’s punt returner on Saturday and experienced both the exhilarating and frustrating parts of the job.
Tyler Hunter returned this first quarter punt 75 yards for a touchdown. Photo by Travis Register
After Duke’s Will Monday shanked his first two punts out of bounds, Hunter received Monday’s third punt and returned it 75 yards for a first-quarter touchdown.
“When I caught it, I felt like I had to make something happen,” Hunter said. “I love it. Just knowing that I have a chance to do something with the ball in my hands excites me. On the touchdown, I just really trusted my blockers, followed them to the end zone.”
On Saturday, Hunter returned five punts for 122 yards (a 24.4-yard average). But in the third quarter, Hunter set up deep in FSU’s end, misjudged the punt and Duke recovered.
“The one I muffed, I was just too laid back and the ball hit me in the facemask and bounced off,” Hunter said.
“First job as a punt returner is not to return it but to catch it,” Fisher said. “That’s what we got to remember and I think we got a little greedy. I still think he had a good day, but that’s inexcusable and we’ve got to get it fixed.”
Hunter, a freshman, was not a punt returner in high school and didn’t have the chance to return punts until preseason camp opened in August. His fellow high school teammate as Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes, Greg Reid, was FSU’s starting punt returner but was dismissed from the team on Aug. 1.
FSU’s coaches gave Greene the first shot at returning punts. But despite Greene having two punt returns for a touchdown this season, the fumbles caused coaches to make a change.
Hunter said he talked with Reid on Saturday morning, and his friend offered him some simple advice.
“He told me to focus on catching the ball and after that just do what I know how to do,” Hunter said.