Nick Saban on Alabama's Australian punter: 'We’re not asking him to play football' just punt

Cecil Hurt
The Tuscaloosa News

James Burnip has never played American football, but Alabama football coach Nick Saban wasn’t exactly looking for that.

”We’re not asking him to play football, we’re asking him to punt the football,” Saban said Saturday after Alabama’s initial scrimmage or the fall.

“He has punted a football before. It’s not like he’s walking off a rugby field and onto the football field for the first time.

”He did a good job today. We still have competition at the position.  But being a young guy, Burnip will even do better when he gets more consistency.”

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Burnip was rated a 4.5-star punter in the 2022 class by prokicker.com and has worked with the same ProKick Australia trainers who helped produce Ohio State's Cameron Johnston, Arkansas' Cam Irwin-Hill and LSU's Jamie Keehn.

He flipped his commitment from Ole Miss to Alabama in June and reclassified to play in 2021  

Alabama opened up its punting competition in the offseason, also adding Troy transfer Jack Martin in May after the Dothan product averaged 46.1 yards per punt last season.

No punting statistics were released by UA from the closed scrimmage  

Charlie Scott, who recorded 22 of the 32 punts last season with a 39.2-yard average, is no longer listed on the Alabama roster. Ty Perine, who punted in 2019 but not 2020, is the third punter on the current Crimson Tide roster. He didn’t appear in a game last season after averaging 44.7 yards in 13 punts in 2019.

Punting productivity at Alabama has slipped in recent years after JK Scott was drafted in 2018. The Tide was ranked 118th of 127 FBS teams last year with 38.0-yard average but had among the fewest attempts nationally because of a historically efficient offense.

Alabama was 101st in 2019 with a 39.9-yard average after ranking 128th of 130 in 2018 with a 35.8-yard average.

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecilhurt@tidesports.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt