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August 21, 2012

Branthover anxious to take over as Hokies' punter

By: Jimmy Robertson

Tech head coach Frank Beamer spent a lot of time this past spring watching his kickers – and for good reason.

A year ago, the Hokies used three punters who combined to rank 108th out of 120 teams nationally in net punting, and also, starting placekicker Cody Journell missed spring ball tending to an off-the-field matter. So Beamer wanted to get an evaluation of all his kickers.

Michael Branthover figures to be the guy at punter this season after playing as a true freshman last season. He punted 25 times and averaged 36.6 yards per punt, with a long of 75 yards – tied for the second-longest punt in school history. He led Tech with seven punts inside the 20 and four punts of 50 yards or more.

But his lack of consistency resulted in him being replaced by Danny Coale toward the end of the season. So consistency has been his focus this summer.

“I don’t think I was pleased with my efforts [last season] at all,” Branthover said. “I’ve been training a lot this summer, and I do need to be better. I want to start off on the right foot. I’ve got a lot of goals I want to meet, and I think I can do a lot better. I definitely want to average at least 40 yards on every kick and have really good hang time. I tend to hit line drives some times, and that’s not very good for the coverage team.

“Right now, I’m punting really well. Last season, I kept holding the ball too far inside and kept hitting the ball left. I’m kicking straight through the ball now and getting really good hang time.”

Journell will return at placekicker after Tech AD Jim Weaver reinstated him to the team. He made 14 of 17 attempts last season on his way to earning honorable mention All-ACC honors. But the kickoff job remains open.

Joe St. Germain will replace four-year starter Collin Carroll as the snapper.



89 Cody Journell (5-11, 195, r-Jr.)

13 Brooks Abbott (6-2, 182, Fr.)
5 Ethan Keyserling (6-2, 205, r-Soph.)


38 Michael Branthover (5-8, 184, Soph.)

23 Hunter Windmuller (6-3, 170, Fr.)

24 A.J. Hughes (6-1, 190, Fr.)
5 Ethan Keyserling (6-2, 205, r-Soph.)


65 Joe St. Germain (6-0, 212, r-Soph.)
59 Eddie D’Antuono (6-6, 256, Fr.)


Returning starter: Cody Journell (13 career starts)

Starters lost: Justin Myer (played in 54 games in his career as the kickoff specialist), Danny Coale, Collin Carroll (snapper; played in every game the past four seasons)

Projected new starters: Michael Branthover, Joe St. Germain

Top reserves: Brooks Abbott, Hunter Windmuller, A.J. Hughes

Newcomers: Windmuller, Abbott, Hughes

Breakout candidate: Branthover

Notes: Journell earned honorable mention All-ACC honors a year ago … Branthover’s 75-yard punt against Duke last season was tied for the second-longest in school history … Branthover played in six games as a true freshman, seeing action after Scott Demler struggled for several games … Freshman Hunter Windmuller was an All-Met selection by The Washington Post.