Ranking the Pac-10 punters

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Punters are perennially underrated.

Coaches will go on and on about field position and how it's often the critical element in close games. Well, a good punter -- much like a turnover, only without possession -- can in one play change the field position battle.

Seven Pac-10 teams welcome back experienced punters, and a couple of others appear to have talented youngsters with big legs ready to step in.

Oregon State and, perhaps USC, could be the only two teams fretting the position.

On the top end, Arizona (P Keenyn Crier and K Jason Bondzio), UCLA (P Aaron Perez and K Kai Forbath, Oregon (P Josh Syria and K Matt Evensen) and Washington (P Jared Ballman and K Ryan Perkins) likely feel pretty darn secure with their returning specialists.

  1. Keenyn Crier, So, Arizona: Named first-team All-Pac-10 as a freshman after averaging 43.7 yards per boot.

  2. Aaron Perez, Sr., UCLA: 35 punts downed inside 20-yard line makes him an NFL prospect.

  3. Josh Syria, Sr., Oregon: Solid last season but looked even better during the spring.

  4. Jared Ballman, Sr., Washington: He's got a big leg and figures to be more consistent after averaging 40.9 yards per punt in 2007.

  5. Reid Forrest, So., Washington State: Some ugly punting moments for Cougars last year, but Forrest ended up with a respectable 40-yard average.

  6. Thomas Weber, So., Arizona State: Weber likes punting, but his coaches would prefer if someone else would beat out the nation's best kicker.

  7. Greg Woidneck, Sr., USC: He's ranked at the bottom of the Pac-10 two consecutive seasons.

  8. Bryan Anger, RFr., California: He showcased a huge, if inconsistent, foot during spring practices.

  9. David Green, RFr., Stanford: Green, a touted prep All-American recruit in 2006, is a better punter than kicker but he could end up doing both this fall.

  10. Kyle Harper, RFr., Oregon State: Get the feeling things are pretty unsettled here for the Beavers.