For most football fans, it can be very frustrating to witness their team fail to convert a third down play, and disappointing to watch the punting unit trot onto the field. This is usually the time when fans take a big “sigh” and lean back in their seats. But thanks to pre-season All-American punter Taylor Accardi, the experience is nearly the opposite for Oredigger football fans. The initial disappointment of a failed third down leads instead to fans sitting up in their seats, waiting in eager anticipation to see what will unfold, which usually ends in a booming punt that can shift the entire momentum of the game. And all from a punter.
The expectations for Accardi and the accolades he receives are well deserved. In the nine games he played last season, the senior from Littleton, Colorado led the nation in average yards per punt (48.5), downed 15 punts (1.7 per game) inside the 20 yard line, and booted a career-best 88 yard punt against Western New Mexico. That means that the Orediggers were backed up to their 12 yard line, nearly into their own endzone when Accardi launched the ball into the opposing endzone for a touchback. Since most punters usually stand 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage, Accardi was standing in his own endzone and punted the ball the entire length of the field. Most Division II punters would be satisfied with a punt half of that distance.
For Accardi, the path to his success was not always laid out for him. Punter was not even his primary position coming out of high school. However, Oredigger fans are sure glad that Accardi made the transition.
As the Orediggers look to make a run at the RMAC Championship this year, it is clear that Mines will have a secret, well maybe not so secret, trick up their sleeve. For his efforts, senior Taylor Accardi is this week’s Oredigger Athlete of the Week.
[Oredigger] How did you end up at Mines?
[Accardi] I looked at a bunch of in-state schools. I really liked Mines for its education and wanted a chance to play football.
What is it like being a punter?
Actually, back in high school, I hated being the punter. I hated it. But the more I have played it, the more I love the opportunities that [punting] presents. I love being able to make a team start from their own one yard line or change the field position by 80 yards. It’s great, but still, the rest of the team always give us a hard time because our workouts aren’t quite as intense.
Can you kick field goals too?
(Laughs) I try to stay away from it. I’m not too good at it.
How far can you kick it?
In practice I can kick it the full length of the field. My punt team hates me for making them run so far.
What is your favorite type of punt?
I like to kick what I call “sky” kicks. Its where you are 40 yards or closer to the endzone and kick it high into the air and make it bounce straight up at the goal line.
Do you have a favorite NFL team?
Of course it’s the Broncos. They’re going to be exciting to watch this year. The played a good team last week (Pittsburgh) and handled them pretty well.
Do you have a favorite NFL punter?
I would have to say Colquitt. Britton, that is, not the other one. I always watch and compare what I do to how they do it.
What is your favorite part about being on the football team?
Definitely the chemistry we have on the team. These guys are going to be my best friends for life.
Where is your favorite place to play (other than Campbell Field)?
I would say playing at [Colorado] Mesa. My best friend from high school is the punt returner for them so every time I go to punt, I have to kick it to him.
Where is the hardest place to play?
Probably [New Mexico] Highlands. Just the whole atmosphere with the fans, it’s crazy.
What is the hardest class you have taken?
Chem 2. I am absolutely awful at chemistry.
What is your favorite class that you have taken?
Thermo 371. But that’s probably all the teacher though. I had Romberger, and he is probably one of the best teachers I’ve had.
What is the nerdiest thing you have seen on campus?
Oh, it would have to be the little humans versus zombies game. I have a video I took of one of those little battles with one of those dudes walking around with the giant foam swords.
What is the nerdiest thing the football team does?
We have a breakdown when we lift. It goes: secant, tangent, cosine, sine. 3.14159. We. Got. Swoll.
What will you miss the most about Mines when you graduate?
I’m going to miss the games and game time. I’m going to miss winning those close games, with all the suspense like that Kearney game a few years ago. There is nothing like that.
What advice would you give a Mines freshman?
I would say to use your resources to the best of your abilities. That will help you make it through. Also to rely on your friends and let your friends rely on you.
What is your Super Bowl prediction?
Broncos over the 49ers
Who is going to win in Week 3 of the NFL season?
Broncos over the Texans by 20.