Kentucky has had many outstanding players in recent years: Josh Allen, Benny Snell, and Lynn Bowden. But you can certainly make a case that no player has been more dominate at his particular position than punter Max Duffy.
Hometown: Perth, Australia
High School: Curtin/Kent Street
Recruiting Ranking: No. 1 punting prospect in the class of 2018 by Ray Guy’s ProKicker.com
It is easy to look at offensive skill players as difference makers. They make the plays, score the touchdowns, and put points on the board. Even the kicker can get the reputation as a game-changing player.
Linebackers and defensive ends have an obvious impact on the game, racking up tackles and sacks and ending drives from the other team. Anyone who causes turnovers is an obvious impact player.
However, the punter rarely gets any respect. Tim Masthay was a great player and went on to win a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers. But even then, he was not a guy that you looked at as making a big impact week in and week out.
Over the last two seasons, and especially last year, Max Duffy has put Kentucky in position to pin the opposition on their side of the field. Duffy led the nation in 2019 with 48.1 yards per punt, was selected as the SEC first team punter, was a first team All-American, and won the Ray Guy Award for the nation’s top punter. That is as dominating of a performance at his position as we have seen from anyone in college football in recent years.
Kentucky has had a strong defense in the last two seasons, and they have been aided with a long field behind them thanks to Max Duffy. His Australian style of kicking, often on the run, has given his punt team time to get into coverage and max tackles deep in enemy territory. His running approach also makes Duffy a threat to run the ball for a first down, which he did on a huge play against Missouri last year.
As difficult as it may be to imagine given the performances we have seen over the last two years, this season’s Kentucky defense may be the best we have seen in Lexington in a very long time. Every defense makes mistakes, but an outstanding punter like Duffy gives the defensive unit a little wiggle room to make those mistakes without giving up points.
Duffy likely has a long NFL career ahead of him. And he has already recruited a replacement in Wilson Berry that is literally from the same school of kicking and is prepared to step in once Duffy leaves Kentucky for the next level of his career.
Duffy is 27, and he is the oldest player on this Kentucky roster. His skills on the field have played a major part in Kentucky’s success over the last two seasons, and his continued growth and leadership could have a huge impact this season on one of the most complete rosters we have ever seen in Lexington.