By Ryan Palencer
— It’s no secret that the Southeastern Conference is home to some of the best athletes in college football.
For Florida punter Kyle Christy, last year was quite an adjustment period. This season, however, has been a breakout year for the sophomore punter from Brownsburg.
In 2011, Christy punted 30 times for an average of 40.9. This season, he has punted 58 times for an average of 46.3.
Christy was named SEC Special Teams Player of the week after averaging 54.3 yards per punt in a win over South Carolina Oct. 20.
“Last year, I really struggled a lot,” Christy said. “But I’ve worked really hard and changed some things and really improved a lot from last year.”
With the success this year, Christy has gained some national recognition, as he was recently listed as one of 10 finalists for the Ray Guy Award for the nation’s best collegiate punter.
“It’s a huge honor and I’m just glad to be selected,” Christy said. “I get to go to Orlando in November and that will be a cool deal.”
Being mentioned with the Ray Guy Award is nothing new for the Gators, however.
“The punter that was here before me, Chas Henry, won it,” Christy said. “I kind of talked to him about it a little bit. He told me about it and how cool of a thing that it is. It’s a huge honor.”
In addition to Christy’s personal success this season, the Gators have seen tremendous team success, claiming a 10-1 record and being ranked fourth in the latest BCS rankings.
“(The success is) pretty cool,” Christy said. “Obviously when you are getting recruited, you come here to win the National Championship. It’s just really cool to be up there and be part of a really good team.”
He said he quickly noticed that the pressure is larger in the national spotlight.
“I’m not going to lie, it can be kind of nerve racking sometimes with 100,000 people,” Christy said. “You get used to it and learn to do your job and block all of that stuff out.”
One experience stood out for Christy this year, and that was when the Gators traveled to Knoxville on Sept. 15 to battle the Tennessee Volunteers, who were nationally ranked at the time as well.
“At Tennessee was a huge game this year,” Christy said. “Obviously, they have one of the biggest stadiums in college football. I had a couple of punts coming out of the endzone this year. It was kind of nerve racking, but I hit them pretty well.”
Christy said he’s making the adjustment from Brownsburg to the larger community of Gainesville, but he did notice one thing right off the bat.
“Obviously, the weather is way different down here,” he said.