In the wake of Jordan Stout’s exit, the Nittany Lions have huge shoes to fill at the punter position. On Saturday, that absence prompted Penn State head coach to call it “probably the biggest question” heading into the season.
But, with one year at Penn State under his belt and an opportunity at hand, Barney Amor is vying to be the answer.
Credited by Franklin as “leading the pack” through the earliest stages of preseason camp, Amor’s path to the job isn’t free and clear, though. Tasked with beating out two other punters on the roster including Gabriel Nwosu and talented true freshman Alex Bacchetta, Amor has taken a broad perspective on what that competition means.
And in his mind, in this, his sixth season of college football, that focus starts with team success.
“The biggest thing is trying to make everybody else better. It’s trying to figure out where everyone is, and then ultimately just doing your job,” Amor said. “For me, that’s going out and being high performance, low maintenance. It’s something we preach around here.”
Big shoes to fill
A year ago, Stout was the definition of that guiding principle.
The Big Ten punter of the year, Stout notched a Penn State-best 46.0 yards average on his 67 attempts. Only three went for touchbacks, 25 were of 50-or-more yards, and 35 were downed inside the 20.
Though Franklin, and Amor, each insisted that some of the position’s pressure would be alleviated by an offense that demands fewer punts, the sixth-year senior has helped his stock with new special teams coach Stacy Collins by showing consistency. First earning the program’s special teams performer of the spring acknowledgment , he followed the effort with a steady summer of progress.
All of it has led to this moment for Amor.
“So much of it is being a consistent performer,” Collins said. “How we’re trying to opp, how we’re trying to locate the football. We’re able to change the pocket with him, change the match point with him quite a bit. And so, that allows us to do multiple things (with him).”
Barney Amor, Alex Bacchetta competition
Opposite Amor, Bacchetta entered the offseason expected to be the biggest threat to win the competition. While Collins highlighted the true freshman’s “great leg snap” and talent, he added that the entirety of the group is talented and ready to compete this month.
Emerging as a fundamental question, then, is which of Penn State’s competitors at the position can produce the most favorable results with the most consistency.
“Consistency is really what starts to separate the kids from, ‘Can you do the same thing every single time?’ So it’s the same thing with anyone,” Amor said. “Jordan Stout, he’s shown that he’s got the leg talent and the leg consistency. Put them together and then you get top-tier performance.
“But, that’s the same thing with (Bacchetta). He’s coming in and doing a great job so far. He’s gonna continue to do a great job through camp.”
Determined to compete with collaborative improvement as the goal through the rest of the preseason, Amor is looking forward to the eventual outcome for the program. And regardless of the coaches’ choice, it’s an environment in which Amor expects the Nittany Lions’ punters to thrive.
“The more everyone can learn off of each other and continue to make the unit better, the better. And honestly, go from there,” Amor said. “The coaches will do what they need to do, put the best guy on the field, and we solve the issue from there.”