Monday, August 18, 2008

They want WHO to return punts???

Last week, Mark Richt announced that UGA is considering using Knowshon Moreno as a punt returner for the 2008 season. This is not surprising as many great running backs have also returned punts. However, it surprised me that Richt and John Fabris are also considering third team QB Logan Gray for the same position. This got me thinking about quarterbacks in the past who have returned punts and I was able to think of two off the top of my head.

Antwaan Randle El, Indiana University

Randle El played quarterback for the Hoosiers from 1998 until 2001. He was known as a true dual threat quarterback, throwing for almost 7,500 yards, running for nearly 4,000 yards, and accounting for 86 touchdowns. During his career he returned both kicks and punts for Indiana. He saw the majority of his action as a punt returner during his senior season and his career at Indiana included 16 punts returned for 149 yards (9.3 yards average). After being drafted as a wide receiver by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Randle El has had a successful career as a punt returner in the NFL. In his six years in the league, he has returned 241 punts for 2145 yards (8.9 average) and 5 touchdowns.

Jayson Foster

Jayson Foster played quarterback, receiver, and running back during his career at Georgia Southern (2004 -2007). He settled back at quarterback for his senior season under head coach Chris Hatcher and won the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the best player in I-AA. He compiled a school record of 3,047 total yards and finished second in the NCAA with 167.6 yards rushing per game. Foster returned punts throughout his college career, including returning 17 punts for 133 yards (7.8 average) during his senior year, and is the only player in NCAA history to have done each of the following:
- 80+ yard kick return TD
- 80+ yard punt return TD
- 80+ yard TD pass
- 80+ yard TD catch
- 80+ yard TD Run

This is a 94 yard punt return for a touchdown Foster had.

What does this mean for Logan Gray?

Logan Gray currently sits third on Georgia's depth chart at quarterback. Richt would like to get him on the field after a strong off-season and a great performance in the 2008 G-Day game. During spring practice, Logan took snaps at wide receiver and suffered a minor injury that quickly ended the experiment. Gray came out of Rock Bridge High school in Columbia, Missouri as one of the top rated dual quarterbacks in the country. Known as a proficient passer, he ran a 4.5 – 40 yard dash and had a reputation as a tough guy (in the 2005 state playoffs, he threw for two touchdowns after separating his shoulder).

After seeing Gray move around on the field during G-Day, I am sure that he has the speed and agility potential to handle returning punts and that this is a good opportunity to get Gray's talents on the field. Unlike Randle El and Foster, Gray would be able to focus on returning kicks without the worry of losing his job as quarterback as Matt Stafford and Joe Cox have that job handled. If we see Logan Gray return punts in 2008, he may just become the best modern quarterback returning punts that the SEC has ever seen.

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