Dustin's Pro Bowl nod first in Colquitt kicking dynasty

Kansas City Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt (2) punts during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Photo by Charlie Riedel, AP2012

Kansas City Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt (2) punts during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

 Dustin Colquitt

Photo by Ed Zurga / Associated Press

Dustin Colquitt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs fans will tell you Dustin Colquitt has played at a Pro Bowl level for several years now.

The wider NFL finally recognized it, too, voting the former University of Tennessee All-American and Knoxville native to his first Pro Bowl today in Honolulu.

For several years, Chiefs fans have jokingly referred to Colquitt — a third-round draft choice in 2005 — as the team's MVP, but his emergence as one of the top punters in the NFL is no joke.

"It's special to be able to do this in Kansas City," Colquitt said last week. "Obviously, this is my first stop and I've had a great time in Kansas City, so I was really happy for the organization as a whole. With them investing in me, it felt good to deliver and finally say, 'Hey, I made it to the Pro Bowl.' "

Colquitt famously vowed as a rookie not to attend the NFL's all-star exhibition until he was selected to play in it. That was eight years ago now, but the wait was worth it.

"Obviously, the longer you wait, the more anticipation you have and the more you think about, 'Well, man, am I ever going to get to go?' " Colquitt said. "I felt like I've been knocking on the door for a few years."

Finally, he managed to break the door down, ending a five-year stranglehold on the AFC's roster spot held by Oakland Raiders punter Shane Lechler — who texted Colquitt to congratulate him when the Bearden High School graduate was picked.

"It's one of those things that can't be taken away," Colquitt said. "But the first thing I think isn't that I should be able to expect more now, it really means much more is expected out of me by putting those two words — Pro Bowl — in front of my name."

Colquitt, who posted a career-best 46.8-yard gross average, comes from the NFL's first family of punting.

His father, Craig, punted for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1978-81 and 1983-84 and collected a pair of Super Bowl rings. He also punted in one game for Indianapolis in 1987.

Dustin's uncle, Jimmy, played in the NFL as well, spending part of the 1985 season with the Seattle Seahawks, while his brother and former UT player, Britton, punts for the Denver Broncos.

Now, though, Dustin Colquitt holds the distinction of being the only member of his family selected to the Pro Bowl after dropping 45 of 83 punts last season — an NFL-best 54.2 percent — inside the 20-yard line.

"Over the offseason, I relooked at directional punting in an effort to limit returns," Colquitt said. "I wanted to be more aggressive in certain situations and force return people to make bad decisions.

"We had a special teams coach (Tom McMahon) come in and challenge me to open my skills more as far as directional punting and hanging it up or shooting it out of bounds — some stuff that was different from the past when I was more focused strictly on hang time."

Colquitt credits McMahon's prodding for the strides he made.

"He was really good for me, because he would really challenge me," Colquitt said. "I might come to him and say, 'I don't feel really comfortable doing that in a game.' But he would find clips of me doing it in a game already. He always put pressure on me and didn't allow me to accept less than my absolute best."

McMahon has moved on to Indianapolis. The Chiefs let him go when Andy Reid was hired to replace Romeo Crennel as coach.

Colquitt might be moving on soon himself. He is slated to become a free agent in March unless he can hammer out a contract extension with the Chiefs.

Colquitt has met with Reid and new Chiefs general manager John Dorsey, but said he and the new staff were "still in the getting-to-know-you process."

For the time being, he's trying not to worry about it.

"That stuff will come in time," Colquitt said. "I don't know what their process is. We've got a long time until free agency and all that stuff works out. My policy is to talk about it with my agent and my wife, but that's about it. When they're ready to chat, we can start chatting about it."

Still, Colquitt knows he might be pulling on that Chiefs jersey for the last time at the Pro Bowl — and it's bittersweet.

He said he'll never forget the first time he walked onto the field at Arrowhead Stadium.

"It was incredible to look up and see that (Chiefs) Ring of Honor around the upper deck," Colquitt said. "You see Jan Stenerud and Jerrel Wilson, who was one of my heroes. I remember seeing those guys' names and thinking, 'I want to play longer here than either one of those guys.' "

Eight seasons later, Colquitt remains in awe of being linked to Stenerud, who is one of three kickers (and the only kicking specialist) in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Wilson, a three-time AFL All-Star and three-time Pro Bowl selection who punted 15 seasons for the Chiefs from 1963-77.

"When you've been with a team as long as I have, of course you want to stay," Colquitt said. "I still have way more gas in the tank. I'm a young buck as far as kicking and punting goes. If that's a possibility, obviously that's something I'd like to have happen."

Beyond his successes on the field, Colquitt's personal life has blossomed in Kansas City.

"Kids have a lot to do with it," Colquitt said. "Hartley, my little girl, is about two and a half and she changed my life for good. That was a whole different animal, and she just pulls at your heartstrings. With the mix of my faith, church, my wife and kids and just guys I can confide in, who challenge me as a person and Christian, it's been awesome. This community has been great for me."

An avid actor and playwright in high school, Colquitt is active in the children's ministry at Grace Church and shares his faith through acting in Biblical plays.

"I did a lot of acting in high school, so I've gotten really involved in the children's ministry at our church," Colquitt said. "I've gotten to play Biblical male characters and had the chance to share my faith through acting in our children's services."

Christia does her share of singing and dancing as part of that ministry as well.

Colquitt and his wife Christia, who burst into "projectile tears" when he told her he was selected to the Pro Bowl, now have four children, including Hartley and three boys — Brinkley, 6, Colston, 4, and Kinsler, 10 months.

The whole crew is in Hawaii thanks to dad's punting prowess, though not everyone is excited about the Pro Bowl necessarily.

"The older ones understand a little bit," Colquitt said. "But really, the whole family is just excited we're going somewhere warm. The thing I'm most worried about is getting enough 50 (SPF) sunblock. That's what the Colquitt family is going to need, because we get a little pasty in the winter."

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Comments » 5

manning_berry_special_player1614 writes:

congrats..now time for some children that we can recruit

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

Just what I was thinking, mbsp. What Colquitt Dynasty punting progeny are in East Tenn. today?
Taking their place on high school fields, learning from family patriarchs, with an eye on Neyland Stadium?

Dalton writes:

Yeah three candidates...four if you're really progressive....11 years will be here before you know it

SeaBassHauling writes:

Wow I think back knowing that I had the pleasure of watching everyone of them thru there college and pro careers

SeaBassHauling writes:

I remember the most amassing punt that I have ever witness and it was live...Miami 2003 the game was a low scoring game where neither team could score when they moved the ball across the fifty....UT scored all there points in the first half and Miami seem to move the ball all thru the second half but only came up with a FG....score 10-6 late in the fourth UT continues to look lethargic and having to punt...you just had this feeling that Miami would pull it out....! With somewhere around 2-2.5 minutes left backed up on there side of the field.....Dustin punts the ball towards the Miami All American punt returner....The hang time on this punt seemed forever and the directional punt took the returner to the sideline....! He had nowhere to go and he still tried to catch the punt and do something with it.....But he had a problem.....with such a long kick that hung forever that carried him to the sideline.....yes he fumbled the ball and UT recovered it and held on to win....one of the most storied games in UT history...! Miami had the longest home win streak in the nation at the time...! This was the last year of the Orange Bowl Stadium being played in...! I think this was the first meeting between the two teams in Miami...! Dustin already had the directional kicking down pat as I witness it in Miami that day....He won this game by flipping the field possession after possession....in the end his left foot WON...! 10-6

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