Lou­d­er­milk en­joys role in Knights’ suc­cess

Orlando Sentinel - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - By Shan­non Green

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.”

JA­COB LANGSTON/STAFF PHOTO

Team­mates say Mac Lou­d­er­milk’s per­son­al­ity helps keep the Knights loose.

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