Florida Punter Chas Henry Is Fourth-Down Fire Power

Joe MorganSenior Analyst IJuly 28, 2010

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 06:  Chas Henry #17 of the Florida Gators punts the ball against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the SEC Championship on December 6, 2008 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Florida Gators punter Chas Henry plays a position that is under-appreciated and often goes overlooked by college football fans and media.

Whenever a team is forced to punt, there's always frustration involved and in Henry's case, most Gator fans aren't happy to see him on the field.

However, despite the disappointment involved in ending a drive with a punt, Henry has found a way to make it somewhat bearable for Urban Meyer and Florida.

Coming out of high school as the No. 1 punter according to Scout.com, Henry had the challenge of replacing four-year starter Eric Wilbur, who was the first Ray Guy Award semifinalist in school history.

Henry had a solid first season for the Gators in 2007, averaging 39.3 yards per punt and pinning the opposition inside the 20-yard line 14 times.

Henry's efforts as a freshman allowed Florida to set a school record by allowing only 22 yards on five returned punts that season.

While the 2007 season was a productive year for Henry, he would have his best season to date for the BCS National Champions in 2008.

In addition to punting 44 times for 1,908 yards and averaging 43.4 yards per punt (third in the SEC), Henry set career high marks in longest punt (67 yards against Florida State), punts attempted (seven against Miami), punting yards in a single game (319 against Miami), and punting average (53.0 yards against Hawaii).

The 2008 season also saw Henry, who had 15 of his 44 punts go for 50 yards or more, become one of the 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award.

While the 2008 season remains Henry's best effort statistically, the Gators punter had an even better year in 2009 despite limited opportunities.

Henry punted a career-low 34 times for the Gators last season, but still averaged 43.4 yards per punt and had only five punts returned for a record-low 21 yards at Florida.

Henry, who was named to the 2009 SEC Academic Honor Roll, earned a spot on the 2009 All-SEC second team and he was one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award.

As he begins his final season in Gainesville in 2010, Henry looks poised to have a career year.

The senior punter was named to the Preseason All-SEC second team and, if he keeps putting up the numbers he has amassed during his career at Florida, Henry should once again be a finalist for the Ray Guy Award.

During his time as a Gator, you could say that Henry has been a good team player.

“Every time our team goes out on the field, we try to put the defense in the best situation possible,” Henry told Gatorzone.com. “Our team understands how important a big-time return can be and how important it is to take that away from another team.”

Henry’s consistency and his team-first mentality are qualities that Meyer admires in his punter.

"The best thing about Chas is his professional approach to college football," Meyer told Gatorzone.com. To have a punter look at you on a long punt and ask, 'Do you want me to hit it out of the end zone?' It's like, sure, absolutely. That's like 60 yards.”

The Gators offense features many playmakers that are capable of changing the game in the blink of an eye.

However, if a defense should stop John Brantley and Co. and force Florida to punt on fourth down, they still can’t breathe easy.

Meyer will simply send out another playmaker in Chas Henry, who can change the game with just one swing of his kicking leg.