PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Countdown To Blue-White: Blake Gillikin’s Punting Artistry

Blake Gillikin can break down a punter’s mechanics like a golf swing. His own spiraling bombs? They’re a thing of beauty.

“Punting’s an art, so obviously you have different nuances that work for different people,” Gillikin said. “I can pretty much look at a punter and see what he’s doing with his drop, what he’s doing with his leg, and what the ball flight will be based on that.”

The Peach State sophomore from Smyrna was a revelation for Penn State’s special teams last season. He took a position that had long been a liability for the Nittany Lions and turned it into an immediate strength, setting the program’s freshman season record for average yards per punt in the process.

Gillikin’s 42.8 yards per attempt in 2016 ranked third in the Big Ten, but the Schreyer Honors College student, who earned a 4.0 GPA his first fall semester, has bigger plans on the horizon. “My goal is to be the best punter in the country every year,” he said.

After Wednesday’s practice, Gillikin mentioned he’s been focusing on explosion-based exercises in the weight room like box jumps and the hang clean. He’s gone from 180 to 200 pounds since arriving on campus last summer, making sure not to forget about arm day. On the practice field, Gillikin has been busy working on the location of his punts with alignment drills and building a rapport with new long snapper Kyle Vasey.

“Everything about my job is consistency,” Gillikin said. “If you can’t be consistent, you can’t really be successful as a punter.”

He’s competing with backup quarterback Billy Fessler for the starting holder job and has kept his kicking leg fresh this spring in case he’s ever asked to pull double duty. “Further down the line, junior and senior year, maybe that’s an option for me,” Gillikin said. After all, he hit a 53-yard field goal in front of 10,000 fans at the Georgia Dome during Westminster’s class AAA state championship victory in 2015.

First and foremost, Gillikin prides himself on being an athlete. When an errant snap sailed over his head during the third quarter against Ohio State, Gillikin raced nearly 20 yards into the end zone to limit the damage to a safety and keep the Nittany Lions within two scores, 21-7.

“Playing three sports in high school, obviously I was really comfortable with a bunch of different situations. With the bad snaps, part of it is just instinct,” Gillikin said. “Ultimately, my goal is to help the defense out the best I can. If I’m helping those guys be successful, then I’m doing my job.”

He highlighted Los Angeles Rams All-Pro Johnny Hekker as a punter he looks up to in the NFL. “He kinda has the same style as me. He’s a long guy, he does everything with the ball that I want to do,” Gillikin said. “He’s a traditional punter, he drops the nose when he wants to put it inside the 10.”

Gillikin classifies himself as a straight-on, American-style punter who has the flexibility to extend upward and drive his leg through the ball. With a full offseason in the strength and conditioning program, Gillikin is primed to break his career-long 69-yarder at Pitt.

His brother Tyler is a redshirt freshman long snapper at Northwestern, meaning the Gillikins can enjoy a de facto family reunion in Evanston on Oct. 10 when Penn State comes to town.

 

 

About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected]

Comments

More by Ethan

Three Recruits High On Penn State’s Wish List

Penn State’s 2019 recruiting class will likely only feature 18-20 prospects, but it would love to see these three join the fold.

Penn State Volleyball Trio Representing U.S. At Pan-American Cup

Beaver Stadium Turf Gets Fourth Of July Makeover

Athletics

Reports: Tony Carr To Begin Professional Career In Italy

Tony Carr might have to wait a little longer than he had hoped to make his NBA debut.

Penn State Hockey’s Aarne Talvitie Showcases At Devils Development Camp

Penn State Hoops Releases 2018-19 Non-Conference Schedule

Forward Abdou Tsimbila Commits To Penn State Hoops

Penn State Volleyball Trio Representing U.S. At Pan-American Cup

Student Life

Penn State Student Dies Of Allergic Reaction To Peanuts

Max McGlinchey had just finished his freshman year studying finance.

Freshman 101: On-Campus Life

Student Farm To Commemorate Summer Solstice With Second Annual Celebration

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

‘Rathskeller’ Name Subject Of Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

The complaint cites that the business has been sold throughout the years and is not tied to that specific location.

Finance Committee Recommends Tuition Freeze For In-State Undergraduate Students

If it is approved by a full-Board vote Friday, the committee’s budget plan will freeze in-state undergraduate tuition for the first time since 2015.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Doggie’s Rathskeller And Garden Opens With Hopes Of Returning To Its Roots

The All-American Rathskeller is no more and Doggie’s Rathskeller and Garden is officially in business — opening with its “sneak peak” at the new bar Thursday afternoon in time for Arts Fest.

Send this to a friend