Punter a question mark for Deacs

Wake Forest assistant coach Billy Mitchell came across what appeared to be a home recruiting video of Australian kicker Alex Kindal and immediately made sure coach Jim Grobe watched it.

“He was just punting the ball, and the ball never came down,” Grobe said with a chuckle. “We were getting it at over five seconds hang time.”

Grobe called a friend who ran a kicking camp to try and learn more about Kindal, who played Australian rules football, and eventually they brought him to campus. He’ll join the team this summer with the rest of Wake’s 2011 recruiting class – and they might need him immediately.

“He’s not punted before,” Grobe said. “I don’t know if he even knows how to put a football uniform on. He’s an Australian rules kid, but he’s a neat kid, he’s a smart kid, he's good character and all those kinds of things. He’s obviously got a great leg. Now, can we put him in a uniform and get him to take a snap, get the ball off on time, mechanics and all those kinds of things? Just from pure ability level this kid’s got a big-time leg.”

So does placekicker Jimmy Newman, only nagging injuries have prevented many from really noticing it.

Newman, who was injured this spring but should be back for summer camp in August, also has a strong enough leg to pull double duty and be the Deacs’ punter this year.Newman finished second in the ACC in field goal percentage last year as he made 12 of 13 field goal attempts. He missed the first one of the season and then made the next 12.

“He’s got a great leg, not a good leg,” Grobe said. “He was really poor kicking off last year because he was sore. He broke our consecutive field goal record and has the same kind of leg Ryan Plackemeier has punting the ball. He just booms them out of sight. His problem was it made him sore to punt and he wasn’t very good mechanically. He took too long to get the ball off. That’s why he wasn’t our punter, but as far as length strength, both kicking and punting, Jimmy has a gift. He just really can kick the football. He just hasn’t been healthy enough to be consistent.”

One of them will have to be in order to replace former punter Shane Popham.