Colquitt NCAA's top punter?

Colquitt NCAA's top punter?

Minus its top three receivers from 2006, Tennessee's offense may struggle in 2007. If so, the Vols at least will have the NCAA's premier punter to kick the ball away after all of those stalled possessions.

Matt Hayes of sportingnews.com tabs UT's Britton Colquitt college football's best punter in a blog called "Top 5 Defensive Players at Each Position." Hayes even goes so far as to term Colquitt "far and away the best in the nation ..."

The sportingnews.com columnist also is impressed with Vol safety Jonathan Hefney, who he ranks No. 4 nationally among safeties.

A rising junior, Colquitt averaged 44.9 yards on 46 punts last fall, with 18 kicks downed inside the opponents' 20-yard line and eight resulting in fair catches. He was a first-team Coaches' All-SEC pick. Colquitt may handle UT's kickoff and placement chores this fall, as well.

Hefney, a 5-9, 185-pound rising senior, led the 2006 Vols in interceptions (5), while ranking second in tackles (96) and pass breakups (8). He registered three tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. A second-team Coaches' All-SEC selection, Hefney also ranked No. 1 in the conference and No. 17 nationally with a 12.1-yard punt-return average.

What follows is a recap of Hayes' rankings at safety and punter, along with his comments on each position:

Safety

1. Kenny Phillips, Miami

2. Tom Zbikowski, Notre Dame

3. Quintin Demps, UTEP

4. Jon Hefney, Tennessee

5. Taylor Mays, USC

The breakdown: Forget about Phillips' mistake in the FIU brawl; he has been a model player/leader every other day of his career at Miami. Demps is way underrated and terrific in coverage. Mays, only a sophomore, will be the best of the group by the end of the season.

Punter

1. Britton Colquitt, Tennessee

2. Durant Brooks, Georgia Tech

3. Chris Miller, Ball State

4. Matt Fodge, Oklahoma State

5. Justin Brantly, Texas A&M

The breakdown: Colquitt is far and away the best in the nation - both in leg strength and ball placement.

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