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March 28, 2008Coming off his breakout sophomore season, placekicker Chris Summers has more to worry about than just putting the ball through the uprights.
At least for the time being, but very possibly for the long haul, Summers is doubling as Purdue's punter, replacing the graduated Jared Armstrong.
He admits handling both chores is a challenge, but one he's not shying away from.
"It's less about me wanting to as it is me feeling I need to," Summers said. "... If the team needs me to punt, I'm going to need to punt. In that respect, I don't really have a decision. I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team."
When we last saw Summers, he was booting a 40-yard game-winner against Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl. It was his 18th make in 22 tries on the season, representing a dramatic turnaround from his freshman season in 2006.
While handling kicking duties the first two years of his career, Summers has dabbled part-time in punting, as an emergency option for the Boilermakers.
"I was (punting in practice), but not as much as I would have been if I were the punter," he said. "I was very focused on field-goal kicking, especially during my first year and after my first year, because obviously, that was my priority.
"I've had to kind of go back to basics, re-teach myself and focus. By camp, I think I'll be good to go, but it's a process."
When camp arrives, there will be other options. For instance, freshman-to-be Carson Wiggs is expected to compete at every kicking position.
But right now, it's Summers' job and Summers' job only.
Doing both at once, as Travis Dorsch did for Purdue in 2001, is a challenge technically, Summers said.
"They're very different (swings). It's not easy. It's very difficult to do both well," he said. "There aren't many schools that have a guy do both, and that's because they're two very different disciplines and with the amount your leg can endure during practice, you don't have as much time to practice both enough to be as good at both as you need to be.
"It's pretty difficult."
But Summers certainly has the leg to do it, Coach Joe Tiller said.
"He's got a live leg and the ball comes off his foot well," Tiller said. "I think all he needs to do, which is a tall order, is improve his consistency. As far leg strength and his ability to handle the punting, there's no question in our minds he can do it."
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