On the Fourth of July, Alex Kinney thought about getting a haircut, but decided to have a little fun first.
So, Colorado’s junior punter fashioned his ‘do into a mullet.
“What’s more American than a mullet?,” he said.
More than a month later, the mullet is still there.
“Coach (Drew) Wilson is like, ‘You can’t get rid of that!'” Kinney said.
While Kinney’s hair ranks among the best on the team, it’s really his leg that has garnered the most attention during CU’s preseason camp. Coming into his third season as the Buffs’ punter, Kinney is kicking the ball better than ever.
“This is definitely the best fall camp I’ve had,” he said.
An immediate starter in 2015 as a true freshman from Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Kinney’s had plenty of good and bad in his career to this point.
The first punt of his career, in the 2015 season opener at Hawaii, was blocked. As the season went along, he showed steady improvement and wound up being a nice weapon, as he placed 23 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
Last year, he increased his average by 1.2 yards per punt, to 41.3, but wasn’t nearly as consistent as he was the year before. Against Michigan, he had a punt blocked and another one returned for a touchdown. Utah also returned one of his punts for a touchdown.
“It wasn’t the best year, but it was good experience,” Kinney sad. “I can say I’ve almost been through everything, the ups and downs and getting things blocked. It makes me more comfortable out there, knowing I’ve been through that and I know how to bounce back.”
Throughout the offseason, Kinney has worked to improve. More than anything, his drop is more consistent. A consistent drop — how the punter releases the ball before the kick — is one of the most important aspects of the punt.
With a better drop, Kinney said, “The balls are turning over better and going farther. It’s just more consistent all-around.”
In addition to improving his drop, Kinney has worked on handling bad snaps.
“If the snap is off at all, he’s able to get lined back up again,” MacIntyre said. “Before, he really couldn’t do that. All summer we had him working on his own, working on bad snaps and then getting back straight so you can get your drop right every time. That has really helped him.”
During Saturday’s scrimmage at Folsom Field, Kinney punted eight times and averaged 51.9 yards per punt. The goal now is to do that on game days.
“A lot of it is mental in punting,” he said. “You just have to keep doing the same thing you know how to do in practice in the games, so hopefully this fall camp will fall into the season also. Hopefully this year will be one of my better years.”
As for the mullet, that may not be around much longer.
“I’ll probably just keep it for (the opener against Colorado State on Sept. 1) and then get more serious,” he said. “Unless I have a pretty good game. Then, who knows?”