Senior Punter Heath Hutchins

Senior Punter Heath Hutchins

Mississippi State senior punter Heath Hutchins anticipates having a great senior season not only personally but for his team as well.

Heath started last season off with a bang, leading the nation in punting for a couple of games but something that happened in the LSU game changed all that.

"I really felt good last year until the LSU game when one guy hit me and I think we were leading the nation (in punting) before that," said Heath. "It messed up my hip although it wasn't anything permanent. After that, I just felt like I had to swing harder because my leg was hurt. Then I got down on myself. It healed and it felt good in the spring."

Now, he feels as good as he ever has.

"Right now, I'm feeling good," said Heath. "I'm kicking the ball better than I have ever kicked it. But the past few days my leg has felt better than ever. One day at practice I was kicking from the endzone and they were landing on the other 30 (yard-line) and going into the other endzone on a roll. I'm feeling it right now."

Even MSU head coach Dan Mullen couldn't believe what he was seeing.

"We were charting my punts the other day and I think of the 30 that I had 20+ that were 50+ punts," said Heath, who has just two punts over 50 yards last season. "Coach Mullen saw the chart and asked if the times and chart was right."

Heath gives Coach Mullen new approach to punting and kicking a lot of the credit for the way he is punting.

"Coach Mullen has taken a different approach this year at practice," said the 6-1, 205-pounder. "Instead of kick, kick, kick, we are now working more on technique during practice, then doing 20 to 30 live kicks in practice and charting them. That's it. So, instead of maybe a 100+ live kicks we are working on technique and keeping our legs fresh. On kickoffs the other day we had a couple of others that were 7 or 8 yards deep and last year I don't think we even had a touchback."

While Heath expects the punting and kicking to be better, he expects to be good, overall.

"This team is going to be very good," said Heath. "I think this year is going to be the best year that we have had in a while because we are solid everywhere. Last year, where we weren't solid, we now have guys who played last year. Now, we have experience, depth and good players. And this team is tight with each other because we like each other and we are all friends with each other."

Heath Hutchins and the rest of the Bulldogs begin play on September 4th against Memphis. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. with the game being televised nationally on ESPNU.


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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