Johnson C. Smith’s Matias Lambrecht knows how well he’s punted a football by the way it looks coming off his foot.
“When I see that it’s turning over, where it spirals going up there, it’s going to be a good one,” said Lambrecht. “I think I did that about 90 percent last year.”
As a freshman in 2013, Lambrecht averaged 43 yards per punt, which ranked second in the CIAA and seventh in all of NCAA Division II.
“He was a godsend for us,” said Golden Bulls coach Steven Aycock.
That might seem like hyperbole coming from a coach talking about a punter. But Aycock understands the value of having one as talented as Lambrecht, a native of Argentina who didn’t even punt much in high school.
“He flips the field for us quite a bit,” said Aycock, whose team opens the season Sept. 6 at Charlotte. “This year he’s going to be a heck of a lot better with his angle punting and how he can really pin teams back for us.”
Lambrecht was mostly a placekicker in high school in Venice, Fla. It wasn’t until he spent a year in prep school at the Atlanta Sports Academy that he began punting regularly. Aycock saw him at a combine in Charlotte in 2013 and knew Lambrecht was special.
“The way he launched the ball off his foot, I knew he would make a difference,” said Aycock. “He was a great diamond in the rough for us. We jumped on him that night and offered a scholarship right then. We rode him from there.”
Lambrecht’s family moved to Venice from Argentina when he was 6. He played soccer for most of his childhood, until his mother suggested he take up football to keep him busy during soccer’s offseason.
Lambrecht punted his first two years of high school, but kicked off and attempted field goals in his junior and senior seasons. He returned to punting at Atlanta Sports Academy and quickly realized he still had a talent for it.
“I started learning the basics of it,” said Lambrecht, who is 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. “I got them down, and I became a good punter.”
Lambrecht said a good hang time for a punt is 4.75 seconds. He averaged about 4.6 seconds last season, he said, and had a few that he figured stayed up there for five seconds. Of Lambrecht’s 42 punts in 2013, 11 went for 50-plus yards and 16 of them were downed inside the opponent’s 20.
“It’s good for any team to have a good punter,” said Lambrecht. “You give your team good field position, because it’s good for your defense when the other offense is pinned down. So you hold them and you’ve got maybe 30 yards better field position for your offense. Also, it makes it tough for a returner if you have good hang time.
“So, yes, my goal would be that.”