Brett Kern averaged a whopping 46.7 yards per punt for the Broncos as a rookie last season, with 13 punts downed inside the 20-yard line and only four touchbacks. The per-punt average is deceiving, however. Kicks tend to soar higher and longer at Mile-High Stadium in Denver because of the altitude, and Kern's average wasn't nearly so imposing on the road as it was at home. Moreover, his net average was nine yards lower (37.8) than his gross average.
Meanwhile, Britton Colquitt has several factors working in his favor as he bids to become the Broncos' No. 1 punter.
First, he has exhibited the ability to kick for both distance and accuracy. He averaged 42.6 yards per punt during his UT career, with a 44.9 mark as a sophomore in 2006. Colquitt also showed exceptional touch and directional skills by putting 73 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line. These knacks enabled him to earn first-team All-SEC recognition as a sophomore and second-team All-SEC honors as a junior, even though he was hampered by a pulled quadricep muscle in the latter season.
Secondly, Colquitt's value is significantly enhanced by the fact he could serve as the backup to Denver's Matt Prater on kickoffs. Colquitt kicked off 56 times as a Vol junior and six times as a senior, producing four touchbacks in the process. Colquitt also provides insurance on field goals, although he missed his only attempt as a Vol.
In addition, the Broncos' special teams coordinator, Mike Priefer, is a family friend who just joined Denver's staff after three years coaching Dustin in Kansas City.
None of the above ensures that Britton Colquitt will land a job in Denver, of course, but all of these factors taken together give him a realistic shot at being the Broncos' punter for the 2009-10 season.