Alex Kinney receives text messages from his mother as a matter of routine. It was one Colorado's punter received late last year that delivered a pleasant surprise.
Not a player prone to dissecting his own statistics, Kinney was unaware he had set a school record in 2017 with 28 punts downed inside the 20-yard line. It was took a text from his mom to inform Kinney about the good news.
Kinney received more good news last month when he earned the rare distinction of being voted as a Colorado team captain as a punter. After an up-and-down first two seasons with the Buffs, Kinney settled in with a standout campaign in 2017. And the senior from Fort Collins expects even bigger things this fall.
"It was awesome that everyone on the team respected me...that was kind of cool to see that everyone is behind me, even though I'm the punter and hopefully I only get three punts every game or something like that," Kinney said. "It's about doing everything (the rest of the team) does. If they see us on the side not running with them, or if we're not doing lifts, I think it's kind of hard to respect that.
"We really wanted to run with them, lift with them, do everything with them so we're a part of them and they won't think of us as just a punter or kicker."
As Kinney noted, having an above-par punter as a secret weapon is a luxury, yet it's a weapon everyone would prefer remains a secret. Kinney's hope that he only has to punt three times a game would be a reversal of the heavy workload he accumulated over his first three seasons. Only three Pac-12 punters compiled more attempts in 2017 than Kinney, and he ranked third in overall attempts as a freshman in 2015. Kinney actually led the league in attempts in 2016, though his final tally was inflated somewhat by CU's appearances in the Pac-12 title game and the Alamo Bowl.
Kinney was a third team All-Pac-12 selection last year after setting career-highs in overall average (43.8) and net average (41.7), despite routinely sacrificing a few yards off his personal averages in the quest to pin the opposition deep in its own territory. His rate of landing 50 percent of his punts inside the 20 also was a school record.
"If I kick it high or a little bit shorter, I don't have to run as much. And if it makes us better, my average, I could care less," Kinney said. "Whatever situation we're in, obviously we want the best punt we can have. If it's a good punt that helps out our team, that's what matters."
Kinney is the first CU punter to be voted team captain since Barry Helton in 1987, and he will begin the 2018 season against his hometown Colorado State Rams on the watch list for the Ray Guy Award as the nation's top punter. His devotion to putting in the same work as linemen and linebackers is a big reason why Kinney will have the "C" beside his name this fall.
"We've had a lot of good punters and kickers come through here who were good leaders, and also when I was at San Jose State," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "But he's been here for four years, he's been the starter for four years. They see how hard he works in the weight room. He's kind of one of the guys. Sometimes kickers are isolated because of the position. But they all like him, they know who he is, they respect what he does.
"I think him getting elected captain is a credit to what he's done on the field, but I think it's a huge credit to what he does off the field in his work ethic, in his attitude, the way he handles himself."