Loudermilk enjoys role in Knights’ success
Look no further than at UCF’s punter Mac Loudermilk to get a snapshot of exactly how much fun the Knights are having during the 2017 college football season.
He kicked a 69-yard punt during UCF’s 49-24 rout over UConn Saturday, earning Ray Guy Award national punter of the week honors. But it was Loudermilk’s exuberant celebration, which included some fist-pumping and even a pretend golf drive that made him a social media star during the weekend.
“I looked at it just like this, just like when there’s a receiver that makes a big play or a quarterback that makes a big play, they get excited and do their little deal. It’s really no different for a punter,” said linebackers and special teams coach Jovan DeWitt. “He wants to make a big play, too. To have him have that enthusiasm is pretty fun to watch.”
Loudermilk turned in a solid performance. He punted four times for 205 yards and his gross and net averages were 51.25 yards. Not one of his four punts were returned.
“He actually had a really, really good day. He had a bad snap on one and he was able to field it for us,” DeWitt said. “He’s a guy that consistently worked at getting better and better every day and always being ready to go. He takes pride in being able to flip the field for us on defense and on offense. He takes it very personally when a guy gets a return on a kick. … It’s really good to see him have that success.”
Loudermilk doesn’t often get a chance to punt given UCF’s near seasonlong status as the No. 1 scoring offense in the country. But when he does line up, it is a sight for sore eyes — at least to kicker Matt Wright.
Wright joked that he and teammates ask Loudermilk to cut his scraggly hair and beard every day. He’s been growing out his hair for the past two years. Loudermilk’s hair is so wild, in fact, that he pulled off a bearded Forrest Gump character for Halloween, complete with the yellow smiley face T-shirt.
Styling issues aside, Wright said Loudermilk has been fitting right in with his new role at holder this season. Loudermilk replaced longtime punter and holder Caleb Houston.
“He’s done a great job. It’s a little bit of a switch from Houston because I was with him for so long, but obviously most of the kicks are going in, so that’s what’s really important,” Wright said. “He keeps it loose out there. He’s a great guy to have out there.”
Maintaining a fun atmosphere was one of the key principles Frost and his staff preached when they took over the UCF program two years ago. Coaches say the fun propels players to play tougher and harder.
Fun is certainly something the No. 15 Knights need to maintain as they attempt to become the first team in school history to complete an undefeated season with just two regular season games left against Temple and USF.
And Loudermilk’s role could end up being a pretty vital Saturday. Philadelphia is expected to produce cool and possibly rainy weather, making field position key.
Cold weather, Loudermilk said, makes the football denser, meaning he’ll need even more velocity to get more distance on the ball.
But Loudermilk says he’ll be ready come rain or sunshine.
“Season’s been great. My leg is fresh because I haven’t been punting a whole lot and so I’ve been getting really good at holding field goals and PATs,” Loudermilk said. “It’s been great. We’re undefeated so I can’t complain.”
Teammates say Mac Loudermilk’s personality helps keep the Knights loose.