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83-Steelers-43
06-02-2007, 11:22 PM
Steelers couldn't resist punter Sepulveda's powerful leg

By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, June 3, 2007

The story that is a part of family lore took place at a gas station when boys started being boys, specifically ones that had been cooped up during a long drive.

Daniel Sepulveda and his older brother, Stephen, were "horsing around," as their father recalled, when Daniel went hurtling into one of the family vehicles, backside first.

He hit the SUV so hard he left a dent in it.

If Sepulveda can make the sort of lasting impression with the Steelers as he did on that vehicle, well, he'll make his new team quite happy.

The Steelers opened themselves -- and Sepulveda, by extension -- to second guessing by investing a fourth-round draft pick on a punter and giving up a sixth-round pick to trade up to get one at the end of April.
Not that the term "punter" defines Sepulveda.

At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, he is built like a linebacker, which is fitting because that's the position he intended to play when he went to Baylor as an invited walk-on. And he may have been the first specialist in the history of the NFL scouting combine to come away disappointed when told that teams didn't need to see how many times he could bench 225 pounds.

Sepulveda's left leg really packs a wallop. He puts such a charge into his kicks that it seems like he could dent footballs as easily as he does SUVs.

Sepulveda averaged 45.24 yards per punt at Baylor -- the highest average in Division I college football history (minimum of 250 attempts) -- and twice won the Ray Guy Award, given annually to the top punter in college football.

"(The ball) just exploded off his foot," Baylor coach Guy Morriss said. "He's going to swap a lot of real estate (for the Steelers)."

That is certainly the hope of the team that finished near the bottom of the NFL in punting average (41.3 yards per kick) last season.

Sepulveda, 23, is adamant that he still has to win the job during training camp -- his only competition at this point is Mike Barr -- but it's safe to say it is his to lose.

And to think he was a reluctant punter not too long ago.

A deeply religious person who has read the Bible every day since he has been in Pittsburgh, Sepulveda attributes his wandering over to where the punters were practicing one day at Baylor to "God's plan."

He had little experience punting and no technique, but his powerful leg was apparent to the coaches that watched him kick. Baylor redshirted Sepulveda his freshman year with the intention of turning him into a punter.

It worked -- sort of.

Sepulveda won the job as a redshirt freshman, but the prospect of playing every down still tugged at his heart. He called his father to say he was through with punting at the end of the season, and that he was going back to playing football.

"If I had realized then that if I ended up being the starting punter that I wouldn't get the opportunity to play something else, then I probably wouldn't have done it," Sepulveda said.

Morriss said Sepulveda "kept bugging and bugging" him about playing linebacker and occasionally he'd relent, letting his prized punter take part in practice drills.

But as Sepulveda developed into one of the premier punters in the nation, Morriss decided the injury risk of wasn't worth it for the team or Sepulveda.

Sepulveda had to settle for making the occasional tackle after a punt, and during one game in 2004 he unleashed his inner linebacker on an opposing returner.

"Almost knocked him out," Morriss said. "The kid's not just your typical specialist."

Sepulveda has graduated to the highest level of the game, and the speed in the NFL is such that he'll have to get off his punts faster than he did at Baylor and be more cognizant of hang time.

Of punting in college, Sepulveda said, "I wasn't trying to hang the ball up for five seconds. I was trying to mash it 55, 60 yards, sometimes hit it over the guy's head. There's no tolerance for mashing the ball and hitting a line drive and having it come back."

He hasn't just changed the approach he takes to punting since joining the Steelers (Sepulveda signed a three-year, $1.46 million contract with the team last Thursday). He also is working on a new technique, one in which Sepulveda kicks the point of the football.

It allows him to "swing as hard" as he can while still giving him better distance control, hang time and aim than if he kicked the meaty part of the football.

"It's going to be really good for me," Sepulveda said of the technique he has been honing during OTA (Organized Team Activity) practices. "If I try to kick it 80 percent, 75 percent, I'll shank one out of five. You can't have that."

Fans won't accept that, especially since the Steelers haven't taken a punter so high in the draft since 1978, when they selected Craig Colquitt in the third round.

Sepulveda said his faith helps keep things, such as the demands of his new job, in perspective, and he can also lean on his close-knit family.

He is the second oldest of four boys, and his father, who is CEO of Interstate Batteries, is also one of his agents.

Asked if he has any concerns as a father and an agent about the pressure his son will face, Carlos Sepulveda said, "None at all. I like his chances, especially if you look at his track record."

Rare talent

? Averaged 46.5 yards per punt his senior season, with a long of 78 yards.

? Became the only punter to win the Ray Guy Award twice.

? He and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Singletary are the only three-time All-Americans in Baylor football history.

? Had four punts blocked his redshirt freshman season but none in his other three seasons at Baylor.

? His older brother, Stephen, played linebacker at Baylor.

? Hails from Dallas, but grew up rooting for the 49ers (his family lived in San Francisco for a couple of years).

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_510761.html

fansince'76
06-02-2007, 11:35 PM
Hopefully this kid can handle kickoffs as well - it would be nice to see our kicking game become an asset rather than a liability for a change.

Elvis
06-03-2007, 06:22 AM
Good point fansince...
Yeh..this guys sounds awesome and I hope that he will be a pro bowler for years to come in the Burgh. If not, then there will be alot of questioning our front office. They usually dont make mistakes but there is always a Alonzo Jackson hiding out somewhere...
Jesus Saves
Elvis

Galax Steeler
06-03-2007, 07:07 AM
Field position is everything and maybe he will help us in that catagory.

The Duke
06-03-2007, 10:59 AM
I remember i used to love Mike Barr, now I have forgotten all about him. Sepulveda is the punter in pittsburgh for years to come. And hopefully on kickoffs

SteelCityMan786
06-03-2007, 04:58 PM
I couldn't blame them for drafting him. They needed to pick someone up to replace Gardocki. He just didn't have his groove last year.

WWIIOwheelz
06-03-2007, 07:13 PM
Plus we signed him for half what we were going to be paying Gardocki. I too would like to see him give kickoffs a shot. No offense to Reed, I like him as a placekicker, but on kickoffs he just isn't getting it done.

In my 12 years of being a diehard fan, I've never seen a kicker who could consistently get touchbacks. I'll bet Reed can count the touchbacks he's gotten on one hand. :)

SteelCityMan786
06-03-2007, 08:51 PM
Plus we signed him for half what we were going to be paying Gardocki. I too would like to see him give kickoffs a shot. No offense to Reed, I like him as a placekicker, but on kickoffs he just isn't getting it done.

In my 12 years of being a diehard fan, I've never seen a kicker who could consistently get touchbacks. I'll bet Reed can count the touchbacks he's gotten on one hand. :)

Yeah, I trust him more with the extra points and FG's. I wonder if last year however was just a sour year.

Newzfoxjr
06-04-2007, 07:38 AM
One time me and my friends were playing football a month ago and I fell backwards into a car and dented it with my ass. What a coincidence. =O!


Anyway, I think this kid is going to be awesome...He's a freak.

Stlrs4Life
06-04-2007, 05:25 PM
Can't wait to see this guy Punt!

83-Steelers-43
06-04-2007, 05:34 PM
Personally, the video of him hitting that guy was amusing at best only because I really don't care if he can tackle or not. I'm more concerned with his punting ability. Show me you can punt the ball effectively and I'm content.

tony hipchest
06-04-2007, 05:35 PM
Can't wait to see this guy Punt!...and make a tackle. i always thought todd saurbrun was tough as nails, since his days with the bears, and he proved it 2 years ago when laid the lick on the patriots and caused a fumble in a crucial moment in a playoff game. pats and denver have been squabbling for his services, ever since. sepulveda could have that much of an impact, but he wont come cheap (as far as punters go) in 3 years.

SteelerFanInCA
06-04-2007, 05:41 PM
Everything that I'm seeing on this guy leads me to believe that maybe this was a pretty good pickup after all.


Looking forward to seeing what this guys leg can do come game time.

Steel Pit
06-06-2007, 02:16 AM
I think that it's safe to say that the Steelers have the "most intimidating" place kicker and punter in the league. You won't bully these guys around like you would a Gary Anderson.

Kittyfish
06-06-2007, 10:08 AM
Personally, the video of him hitting that guy was amusing at best only because I really don't care if he can tackle or not. I'm more concerned with his punting ability. Show me you can punt the ball effectively and I'm content.Apparently, he can do both. Which, in my book, is a good thing. :smile: From what I've read, he seems to be a good guy as well. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do for us.

83-Steelers-43
06-06-2007, 10:19 AM
Apparently, he can do both.

Much like with any other draft pick on the roster I guess I would rather wait until the guy actually plays a game at the NFL level before I jump to any conclusions. That's when I will know for sure that "he can do both".

Which, in my book, is a good thing. :smile:

If that is in fact the case, I agree.

From what I've read, he seems to be a good guy as well.

Stan Savern interviewed him for a half hour on FSN Pittsburgh a few weeks back and I agree.

I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do for us.

You, me and the rest of Steeler nation.

flanman
06-08-2007, 02:59 PM
I just hope we don't have to see him punt too often. I would rather see him do 3-4 kickoffs a game, and one or not punts. Just wishful thinking.

Flanman

Elvis
06-08-2007, 03:53 PM
Field position is everything and maybe he will help us in that catagory.
Amen Brother:tt02:

Preacher
06-08-2007, 07:21 PM
I just hope we don't have to see him punt too often. I would rather see him do 3-4 kickoffs a game, and one or not punts. Just wishful thinking.

Flanman

I was thinking the same thing.

Isn't funny that we draft a guy... hoping we never have to see him on the field for the position we drafted him?

The Duke
06-08-2007, 10:29 PM
I just hope we don't have to see him punt too often. I would rather see him do 3-4 kickoffs a game, and one or not punts. Just wishful thinking.

Flanman

:iagree: