Punting competition a balancing act for Potter

Punting competition a balancing act for Potter

Football

Punting competition a balancing act for Potter

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The tattoo serves as a constant reminder of where B.T. Potter ultimately wants to take his career.

Running down the inside of the left calf of Clemson’s veteran specialist are the words “Don’t let your dreams die.” Potter said he often gets questions about the location of the tattoo considered he’s a right-leg kicker, but there’s a specific reason for the placement.

“If I got it on my right leg, it would read up instead of reading down, so I figured I’d get it there (on my left leg),” Potter said. “Just a reminder to myself that things might get tough, but I’ve always had this dream since I was kid.”

That dream is the NFL, which Potter could have a crack at next year once his fifth and final season at Clemson comes to an end. The Tigers’ kicker opted to put those aspirations off one more year to return to Clemson, where his second senior season could come with more responsibilities now that he finds himself also competing to handle the punting duties.

For Potter, it’s making for a balancing act between the future and present.

On one hand, adding more versatility to his game could make him a more appealing specialist at the next level. NFL teams rarely spend draft picks on kickers and punters, so combining the two would maximize the chances of Potter’s dream being realized. He used former Texas kicker Cameron Dicker as an example. Dicker, who spent most of his career with the Longhorns as a placekicker, signed with the Los Angeles Rams as a punter after going undrafted this spring.

Dicker was cut by the Rams earlier this week, but being able to do both got Dicker’s foot – er, leg – in the door.

“It’s pretty cool to see (punting) is what got him to the league and helped him get a spot on the team,” Potter said. “It’s pretty important.”

But Potter also wants to maintain his status as one of the ACC’s top placekickers. A Lou Groza Award semifinalist in 2020, Potter is coming off his best season as a Tiger last year after converting a career-high 80.8% of his field goals. It earned his second-team all-ACC honors.

Potter was thrust into the punting competition during the spring following Will Spiers’ departure. He also handles kickoffs, so Potter said the spring game was the first time he had done all three in a game since his prep days at South Pointe High School.

“And I was like, ‘Man, my leg. I’ve really got to take care of it,’” Potter said. “I can’t kick into the net as much if I do all three during the game. I really have to think about preparing. You’ve got to know if this is a punting situation or a field-goal situation and just knowing the difference in the swings and how to switch between the two.”

Assistant coach Mike Reed, in his first year coordinating the special teams, said it’s been important to keep Potter on a pitch count during preseason camp in order to keep his leg fresh, which has also given the coaching staff more opportunities to evaluate the other two candidates for the punter job, Aidan Swanson and true freshman Jack Smith.

Potter will handle all three if that’s the way things play out. Ideally, though, Potter acknowledged it would be better if one of them won that job.

“That would be great,” Potter said. “I love to compete, but at the end of the day, I think that would help my leg stay fresh.”

Dear Old Clemson has added to the store posters signed by all 20 members of Clemson’s 2022 football class.

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