Mike Strange: Colquitts able to give Matt Darr a leg up on punting

Mike Strange
Matt Darr

Matt Darr

If a guy had to drive from Bakersfield, Calif., to Knoxville, Denver would be a convenient stopover.

For the next leg of the trip, Kansas City sounds about right.

Did I mention our guy is a punter at the University of Tennessee?

The only thing that would make it better is a host named Colquitt at both stopovers.

Let's see Triple-A or Orbitz come up with an itinerary better than that.

"It worked out great,'' Matt Darr said Tuesday of the trip he made in May to get his truck from California to campus.

Darr is a redshirt freshman who will be the punter for a football program at which the top four names on the career punting chart are Colquitt.

The latest Colquitt, Britton, was Darr's host in Denver, where he punts for the Broncos.

"We punted together and he gave me a place to stay for a day,'' Darr said.

On to Kansas City where Dustin Colquitt is the Chiefs' resident punter.

"I stayed with Dustin and his family for a few days and we got some good training in,'' Darr said.

"The knowledge they have of what they do is just beyond what a lot of people can imagine. And for me to use them, to confide in and learn from, I'm blessed to have that.''

Darr had already struck up a relationship with Dustin during the spring. Colquitt was back in his hometown and showed some pointers that Darr said helped him in the spring game.

Darr welcomes all pointers. His background is not that of a typical kicking prodigy.

He didn't play soccer in high school, as the Colquitts and so many other kicker/punters did. Rather, he threw the shot put and the discus.

And during football season he was a linebacker who also happened to punt.

"He wasn't like a lot of these guys you see who have had a kicking coach all their lives,'' said UT special teams coach Eric Russell. "He got by on just having a very talented leg.''

Yeah, but wasn't he the top-ranked punter prospect in the Class of 2010?

"Just purely on that right leg,'' Russell said. "Because it is impressive when he catches it a little bit. You hear the 'oohs'.

"Then when the 30-yarder pops off . . . ''

The 30-yarders still pop off, but they're fewer and farther between. Darr admits he came to UT "unrefined,'' but he's playing catch up.

The track background and training were beneficial in high school. The shot put is all about explosiveness in the lower body. The discus requires leverage. And like punting, the throws are an individual endeavor that require mental focus and technique.

Darr, a state shot-put champion as a junior and senior, was so good at it he planned to go to Arizona State on a track scholarship. Then Oklahoma State showed up with a football offer and a new door opened.

He originally committed to Southern Cal, but backed off when Pete Carroll left. He was still interested enough to make an official visit for Lane Kiffin, but instead signed with Fresno State.

Then Kiffin hired Fresno's special-teams coach. Rather than follow him to USC. Darr started shopping again. Russell, who had first recruited Darr while still at Texas Tech, was the link to Knoxville.

Darr is more flexible now — Colquitt stretching tips, thanks very much — and less bulky. That might not be good from the throws but football is his day job.

"People here are expecting me to do my job punting,'' said Darr, "and that's what I'm committed to doing.''

Spoken like a Colquitt.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 20

cdvol writes:

Hope he has a little more life in his leg. He wasnt living up to the hype last year. God luck to him. Did anybody else see the story that yahoo sports did on Miami? Miami is the new SMU. Hello death penalty or something close to it!

tree_em_smokey writes:

in response to VOL_GOD:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

M. Palardy....who else....Chip Rhome? I sure hope our kicking game is much improved from last year. We need every angle we can get on our opponets! GBO!!!

kabulvol writes:

Oh lord, should I even speculate as to whether Colquitt giving him a place to stay might be a violation?

castoff121 writes:

in response to kabulvol:

Oh lord, should I even speculate as to whether Colquitt giving him a place to stay might be a violation?

That was my fear....hopefully former players are not considered "boosters".

LJS1984 writes:

My Ucle taught Dustin, and I have had class with both him and Britton at various times in Knoxville. Both kids are class acts and are two of the best punters in the NFL. They already have had better NFL careers than most Heisman winners could ever wish to have. The list is way too long to post here, but most heavily include Gators. Win the Heisman? Or have a long NFL career?

http://www.denverbroncos.com/team/ros...

http://www.kcchiefs.com/team/roster/D...

LJS1984 writes:

in response to Tweetdriver63:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I was thinking the same thing about a violation. I just didn't want to post it. Thanks Mike Strange. Oh well, there is no way that this can even touch what's going on down in Bammer (the program that hasn't been off probation in 20 plus years). Or Awbarn (the program that hasn't been off probation in 19.9 years according to Bama Bubbas)? And what about Miami?

LJS1984 writes:

How can the NCAA say that this is a violation? Both kids are Tennessee kids, trying to help out a new Tennessee kid. If the NCAA thinks this is a violation then they have major issues. It's all about the kid for everybody involved. That's why I didn't take issue with a couple of pro's that happen to be Vols helping out a future Vol. If the NCAA takes issue with this, then there are major flaws with the whole system.

LJS1984 writes:

Kid will be a solid punter for the next four years.

cgbtn writes:

Our football program was so blessed to have Coach Cafego for so many years. I wonder if we will ever find another like him. Our kickers did not need to hunt for instruction.

The_Real_Orange writes:

in response to FLVOL79:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your first statement was true, then you had to let your hatred of the Gators make you look like an idiot. Tell me again what former UT punter had a better pro career than Emmitt. Sometimes you should think before typing ......just sayin.

orangehippi writes:

in response to VOL_GOD:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Palarady

lomas98 writes:

in response to LJS1984:

How can the NCAA say that this is a violation? Both kids are Tennessee kids, trying to help out a new Tennessee kid. If the NCAA thinks this is a violation then they have major issues. It's all about the kid for everybody involved. That's why I didn't take issue with a couple of pro's that happen to be Vols helping out a future Vol. If the NCAA takes issue with this, then there are major flaws with the whole system.

North Carolina had a few players ineligible for a few games last year because a former North Carolina player who I believe played for the Giants flew them up and put them up in a hotel. That was a pro who happened to be a tarheel helping out future tarheels. Not saying this will be an issue, but there are absolutely flaws with the whole system.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

in response to kabulvol:

Oh lord, should I even speculate as to whether Colquitt giving him a place to stay might be a violation?

My thoughts exactly. I would like to think this interview and article was approve before printing?

phippo writes:

in response to The_Real_Orange:

Your first statement was true, then you had to let your hatred of the Gators make you look like an idiot. Tell me again what former UT punter had a better pro career than Emmitt. Sometimes you should think before typing ......just sayin.

emmitt smith one compared to how many from ut, which right now has more players in the nfl, and the sec as a whole has more than any other conference playing on sundays. and emmitt was great.

murrayvol writes:

in response to cdvol:

Hope he has a little more life in his leg. He wasnt living up to the hype last year. God luck to him. Did anybody else see the story that yahoo sports did on Miami? Miami is the new SMU. Hello death penalty or something close to it!

It'll take a rug the size of Dade County to sweep all this under.

NCAA has missed the elephant in the room before. They can do it again.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Tweetdriver63:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What's really sad is even with all this supposed cheating they've been chronically mediocre.

murrayvol writes:

in response to The_Real_Orange:

Your first statement was true, then you had to let your hatred of the Gators make you look like an idiot. Tell me again what former UT punter had a better pro career than Emmitt. Sometimes you should think before typing ......just sayin.

Quiet down Precious....and pull your pants up.

Embrace the fact your Gaters are (according to visiting journalist Gary Danielson) a "train wreck".

RockyTop writes:

in response to lomas98:

North Carolina had a few players ineligible for a few games last year because a former North Carolina player who I believe played for the Giants flew them up and put them up in a hotel. That was a pro who happened to be a tarheel helping out future tarheels. Not saying this will be an issue, but there are absolutely flaws with the whole system.

It doesn't say the Colquitts paid for anything, they simply let Darr stay with them as he was passing through. No plane tickets or hotel rooms were involved.

SpecialTeams101 writes:

in response to cdvol:

Hope he has a little more life in his leg. He wasnt living up to the hype last year. God luck to him. Did anybody else see the story that yahoo sports did on Miami? Miami is the new SMU. Hello death penalty or something close to it!

It is wrong to say "He wasn't living up to the hype last year"
U.T. had Chad a Senior Punter last year that did a good job. Coach Dooley took advantage of this and keep Darr off the game field.;
Yet Darr has one year of College punting experience (100,000 spectators + media + academics) behind him and still has 4 years of eligibility. This year the job is his to lose or keep, lots of pressure for a 18-19 year old to deal with especially being a couple of thousand miles from home and family not to negate the fact he is half way across the USA from his high school coaches.
Thankfully U.T has past athletics that are willing to give back to the program, and Darr is willing to search them out. This kid is going to be AMAZING.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to LJS1984:

How can the NCAA say that this is a violation? Both kids are Tennessee kids, trying to help out a new Tennessee kid. If the NCAA thinks this is a violation then they have major issues. It's all about the kid for everybody involved. That's why I didn't take issue with a couple of pro's that happen to be Vols helping out a future Vol. If the NCAA takes issue with this, then there are major flaws with the whole system.

Goodness knows, I hate to anticipate NCAA trouble over this, but one of the early infractions cited in the UNC investigation involved a former player now in the NFL entertaining a couple of then-current UNC players at his home in California. He (allegedly) took them for workouts at a local gym and provided various other "entertainment" for them while they were there. I think he may have also provided them transportation out there. I don't THINK Darr's visits with the Colquitts were of quite that particular nature, but you never know how the NCAA might look at things like this these days.

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