April 3, 2013

Florida's No. 1 weapon healthy

Kyle Christy was the Southeastern Conference's best punter last season.

Florida's first-team all conference punter had a decorated sophomore campaign as one of the nation's elite special teams performers, tallying the fifth highest yard per kick average in the country (45.8 yards/punt).

The Ray Guy Award finalist rebounded from a shaky freshman year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Christy made his feats all the more impressive after he acknowledged he'd battled a torn labrum the entire 2012 season.

"I actually did it before the season," UF's junior punter said. "If I would've had surgery I would have had to miss the entire season, so I just waited until after."

Christy, who said the pain was severe only for a couple weeks, said his shoulder feels great now, but he's still recovering from off-season surgery (after the bowl game) and has been limited during spring camp. He said he's been able to "punt for a while now, but I'm still not allowed to catch snaps yet."

The punter sheepishly admitted he hurt himself in an accident, saying, "It's embarrassing. I fell off my scooter. I was really hoping you wouldn't ask that."

After starting Florida's final seven games in 2011, the junior set multiple school records last season -- total punt average and single-game mark of 54.3 yards per kick against South Carolina -- and said he understands the difficulty of repeating such success.

But it won't be for lack of effort.

The junior talked about how he's focusing on each individual rep this spring and making sure his mental preparation is on point.

"Coming off the surgery I just want to get back to where I was and try to just become more consistent," he explained. "It's just hard after taking a big break."

Christy is still shaking off the rust from missing four weeks of punt practice after surgery, but he's "doing a lot better now." He remains roughly one month away from being medically cleared to receive snaps and said it will be an area of focus during summer workouts.

"I just haven't been able to catch a snap in like forever," Christy said. "As soon as I'm able to do that I'll have to get a bunch of reps out there and just make sure my operation's down."

Although earlier this spring coach Will Muschamp briefly mentioned the punter as a possible entry into UF's wide-open kicker competition, Christy said it's news to him and something he isn't planning on at all.

"I did high school. I would say I'm able to kick field goals, but I'm not good at it," he said laughing. "I don't really practice it."

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