A few months back when Johnny Townsend decided he wanted to stay home and play at Florida for his college choice it put Ohio State in a predicament. You see OSU had lost their SR punter Ben Buchannon after the 2012 season and didnt have a punter on the team for the 2013 season. Several attempts to get a walk-on punter all failed and Ohio State was in a pickle. Drew Basil the starting placekicker is capable of punting but to have him handling all kicking duties is not ideal at all. So Ohio State decided to scan the world and find a punter and they finally found one all the way down under in Australia.
Cameron Johnston is a 21-year-old former Australian Rules Football player.
He’s also expected to be the next punter for Ohio State. If the coach who trained him is correct, Johnston will turn what is a question mark on the 2013 team into an exclamation point.
“He has an explosive leg unlike anything that I think anyone at Ohio State will have seen,” said Nathan Chapman, who trained Johnston at Prokick Australia in Melbourne.
Ohio State has not confirmed Johnston’s signing, but Chapman said it is official. Johnston’s flight from Australia to the United States left last night. Chapman suspected that Ohio State is waiting until he arrives before making an announcement.
On a layover late last night in Sydney, Johnston said in a Facebook message that he “can’t wait to get over and start training, being given the greatest opportunity to be part of the Ohio State University.”
Prokick Australia has trained numerous kickers for American colleges. Kickers accepted into the program go through a rigorous 12-month training period, and the results are impressive.
Alex Dunnachie was fourth in the nation in punting average for Hawaii last year at 46.2 yards per kick. Tom Hornsey of Memphis was 19th. Prokick Australia has punters in the Canadian Football League and some who are trying to make the NFL. Even Chapman unsuccessfully tried to make the Green Bay Packers’ roster in 2004.
The way Chapman describes Johnston, he is as good as anyone Prokick Australia has produced.
“I do have in my film him punting the ball 80 yards, and I’ve got him on film with hang times of 5.2 to 5.4 (seconds),” Chapman said. “(It’s) continually 65 yards, ball after ball after ball.”
Such numbers border on the hyperbolic, but Chapman insists that Johnston is for real.
“It’s just his natural kicking that he has grown up with playing Australian Rules,” Chapman said. “Plus, he has phenomenal core strength and leg strength. He’s got fast-twitch fibers, so he’s got leg speed — just a range of things that allows him to have quick, solid impact on the ball.
“He’s a phenomenal talent with an amazing leg who’s going to grow into his position. I think the university is so lucky and fortunate to be in position to have him.”
Chapman, who also played Australian Rules Football, contacted Ohio State about Johnston last September. The Buckeyes were skeptical, he said, but after watching tape, those doubts faded. Still, the Buckeyes pursued and got a commitment from Johnny Townsend, a punter from Orlando, Fla.
“It was disappointing, but we understand that it’s a business and it’s a part of the process,” Chapman said. “We had a couple of offers to go elsewhere from smaller universities, which we declined.”
On national signing day, Townsend decided not to sign with the Buckeyes and soon chose Florida. That reopened the door for Johnston. Chapman said that a couple of Southeastern Conference schools wanted Johnston but didn’t have an opening this year.
“If Cameron hadn’t gone to Ohio State, he would have gone to Alabama (next year),” Chapman said.
During Ohio State’s spring practice, place-kicker Drew Basil was listed as the No. 1 punter. Though Basil was more than adequate, having one player handle all kicks is not ideal.
Chapman said he expects Johnston to have an adjustment period to American culture and to the football culture at Ohio State. But he described Johnston as a natural, upbeat leader and excellent teammate who will blend in, and predicted that he would become a popular member of the team.
“Once they start training camp and you get to see him for real, you’ll understand what’s on your doorstep,” Chapman said.
I can’t find any recruiting sites with info on Cameron but based on his highlight video it looks like he could be a heck of a punter and the answer to at least one of Ohio States glaring questions this season. Below you can see his Highlight reel with accompanying awesome Aussie Club Music for your personal enjoyment.