All-American Aussie Wing wants Ray Guy Award
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)
Now entering his redshirt sophomore season, Wing easily could turn pro after only his second season of college football.
Confident but not cocky, Wing grins bashfully without answering when asked about realizing the NFL dream that his father, David, briefly chased with the Detroit Lions two decades ago, then changes the subject to his more immediate goals.
''There's two things on my mind right now,'' Wing said. ''The first one is a national championship, and then I really want to win the Ray Guy Award. For a personal achievement, I really want to be there in Orlando to compete and win the Ray Guy Award for the best punter of the year.''
Wing's range, accuracy and versatility as a punter was honed playing Australian Rules Football. He was named first-team AP All-American and a Ray Guy semifinalist in 2011, when he averaged 44.4 yards per punt. He can punt with both legs, and is as adept at hitting short, accurate end-over-end punts as he is booming spirals
After missing LSU's opener with a slight hamstring pull, Wing returned last week against Washington, showing no less pop in his left foot.
His first punt traveled 62 yards before rolling out of bounds at the Huskies' 4-yard line. He finished with three punts for an average of 54.3 yards.
Throughout Wing's memorable first season, he said he hoped he could pave the way for other Australians to go to college in America as punters.
He made believers out of LSU's coaching staff, which recruited another Australian, Jamie Keehn, as Wing's successor.
Keehn decided to pursue punting in America after learning about Wing, who hosted Keehn on his recruiting visit from Rockhampton, Australia.
''To me, that's just a blessing, just unbelievable that I could have inspired somebody to go and chase their dream like I did,'' Wing said. ''I've already helped one kid, I know, so I'm happy with that.''
Keehn, who played in the season opener against North Texas, is generally barred from giving interviews under LSU football policies which shield freshman from the media.
The very first long snap that came his way was high and went through his hands. The ball bounced behind him as North Texas players converged. Appearing perhaps calmer than he really was, Keehn scooped the ball cleanly, and while running laterally away from the rush, booted a line-drive nearly 40 yards down field, with the ball coming to rest at the Mean Green 16.
If LSU head coach Les Miles was not sold on Aussie punters before, he was after that play. He realized how well-rehearsed Keehn was for salvaging botched snaps from a childhood full of scooping oblong balls on the run and quickly kicking them.
''As it went through his hands, I personally was having a heart attack, whereas Jamie Keehn said, `A ball on the ground! How fortunate for me!''' Miles recalled. ''He turned and surveyed those people who would try to block this punt, and then said, `I'm in great shape off to the right, so I pick it up, take a couple of steps, and bang it.' I thought that was magnificent.
''I don't want to do it that way anymore,'' Miles added. ''But in the absence of a great punt, I like a very quality ad-lib.''
Miles isn't the only coach liking what he's seen of punters from Down Under.
Wing, meanwhile, has a small star tattooed behind his right ear to symbolize his younger brother, Tom, who is playing high school football thanks to the family's decision to move from Melbourne to Baton Rouge.
''It was either going to be a star, a little smiley face or a peace sign,'' Wing said. ''He likes to think he's a star.''
Not a star punter though. He plays receiver.
''He's a lot more athletic than me,'' Wing said.