The Murray, Ky., product could easily win the job as UK’s No. 1 punter and
also could make a run at handling kickoff duties that Clint Ruth did so well
the last two years.
“That’s what some people expect, but there are some great guys already at
Kentucky and the competition will be tough,” said Masthay. “I guess the one
thing I really have going for me is that I am fresh and I am excited. I am not
jaded about anything by any means.”
He also thinks kicking in Friday’s Kentucky-Tennessee All-Star Game gives him
an edge because it has forced him to get back to kicking, something he didn’t
do a lot while playing basketball and baseball.
“I haven’t been doing much kicking until this week,” Masthay admitted. “This
is really the first week I have got out and trained hard. I am starting with
the UK kickers next week, so I needed this bad.”
Masthay always envisioned himself as a college placekicker. However, that
changed last year when Kentucky told him the team needed a punter for the 2005
season. “That’s when I started focusing on punting,” Masthay said.
He said most people don’t realize how much technique is involved in punting
and that punting is harder than placekicking, which has a similar motion to
what he used for soccer. That’s why he’s glad UK head coach Rich Brooks
oversees the punters and pays particular attention to them.
“He is basically the punting coach. He knows a lot about punting. Other than
one day at Kentucky, I have never had any really coaching when it comes to
punting,” Masthay said. “I played four sports in high school, so I am hoping
if I just focus on punting that it can really make me a better kicker.”
He says he would like to average 40 to 45 yards per punt with good hang time,
a must to neutralize speedy Southeastern Conference return specialists. “Hang
time, especially in the SEC, is more important than distance,” he said. “If
you hit it 50 yards but it is low, those guys are going to return it. It’s
better to be 35 yards with a lot of hang time. Then it is just a fair catch.”
Masthay was adjusted to life only as a kicker during all-star practice this
week, something that is not easy for a player who played football, basketball,
baseball and soccer at Murray. However, there’s no doubt he’s all blue.
“I love the state of Kentucky. There is no greater honor for me than playing
for the home state school,” Masthay said. “Then I also love the coaching
staff. There’s not anything about Kentucky I don’t like. I just can’t wait to
get started. This week is fun, but the real work starts next week.”