If you like watching fun football celebrations, check out Kansas State’s sideline the next time Devin Anctil takes the field for a punt.
His teammates don’t ignore the play or focus on other things while he’s out there. They pay close attention and usually jump for joy when his punts result in horrible field position for the opposing team.
“They are always swarming me every time I have a good punt,” Anctil said, “which is pretty awesome.”
Anctil, a senior from Lenexa, has found himself in the middle of many celebratory swarms this season. His 21 punts have traveled 931 yards and routinely landed in ideal spots for the Wildcats. He has pinned teams in front of their own end zone six different times this season, and that number would be even higher if not for a penalty wiping out one of his best punts against Baylor.
He is arguably one of K-State’s most valuable players.
That much was obvious last week when he boomed a punt 55 yards at an angle that sent the ball out of bounds at the Baylor 2. Following a false start penalty, the Bears faced a 99-yard field on the ensuing drive.
“His ability to place the football (is most impressive),” K-State coach Chris Klieman said. “He’s got a great leg, everybody knows that. (He) gets the ball off on time. The ability to directionally punt the ball where we ask him to punt it, whether it was into the wind or with the wind, that’s tough to do. As he progresses and continues to improve on all of his mechanics, I think he has the ability to punt on Sundays.”
That is Anctil’s primary goal for the future, but right now he’s trying to help the Wildcats win games and hoping to collect some trophies along the way.
If he keeps pinning opponents in bad field position, he could win the Ray Guy Award later this year. If he keeps flawlessly holding the ball on field-goal attempts for K-State kicker Blake Lynch, he could win the Mortell Award. And if he keeps doing both, the Wildcats will surely honor him at the conclusion of the season.
Anctil says he put in considerable work during the season to reach this point, altering his punting technique to better control the direction and hang time of his kicks.
But his physical abilities are what truly set him apart from most other punters.
Anctil isn’t lanky. He is strong, checking in at 6-foot-1 and 234 pounds on K-State’s official roster. When he steps into the weight room, he holds his own.
“You don’t see a punter often who looks like him,” sophomore defensive end Wyatt Hubert said. “I think he holds every record in the weight room for specialists. He is just a physical specimen. He is definitely a talented player. He has the strongest leg I have ever seen from a punter. He puts the ball wherever we ask him to put it. He had a great game on Saturday. He put the defense in great position several times.”
The Wildcats didn’t always take advantage. Case in point: the Bears marched six plays for a touchdown after Anctil pinned them at the 2.
Everyone, including Anctil, would prefer he only be needed for one or two punts each game. But K-State players don’t fret too much when he takes the field. They expect big things from their punter, and they celebrate accordingly.