At 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds, Colton Schmidt of UC Davis looks more like a defensive end and his No. 90 jersey supports that image than a punter.
If opposing coaches didn't know any better, they would guess Aggies coach Bob Biggs is using a third-string defensive lineman for punting duties. But one kick and skeptical opposing coaches become believers in Schmidt's abilities.
"Our defense continues to play well, so I don't hesitate to punt because he'll pin their offense deep," Biggs said. "He's a big weapon. I don't worry about returns because his hang time is so long. It's a phase of the game that I don't have to worry about at all."
At Liberty High School in Bakersfield, Schmidt was the team's punter and placekicker. Now a senior at UC Davis, he also kicks off for the Aggies and has eight touchbacks.
This season, Schmidt has punted 23 times for 948 yards, a 41.2 yards per kick average. Of those 23 punts, he's kicked them so high and far that 12 of them have been fair catches and 11 have been inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Those brave enough to return one of his punts have averaged just 3.6 yards a return.
Schmidt is among the Aggies' all-time leading punters, and his career average of 40.2 yards per punt is just shy of Chris Shibel's Aggies career best of 40.7 from 2001-04.
Schmidt averaged 42.3 yards a punt last season and while distance is a good measurement of how effective a punter is, hang time is another. The Aggies don't keep a record of hang time, but an unofficial timing of two punts in the season-opening win over Azusa Pacific netted a 4.9-second average.
"(The perfect punt) is one that's up in the sky forever with a high spiral, then turns over and has no return," said Schmidt.
He entered the year having pinned 56 kicks inside the 20. In 2011, 13 punts traveled at least 50 yards. As a sophomore, he set a school record with a 78-yard punt at North Dakota.
Schmidt's 202 punts are third-most among active NCAA Football Championship Subdivision punters. While he wants to get onto the field, he also knows that if he punts it's because the offense has stalled. But then again, in a battle for field position, Biggs calls upon Schmidt.
"It is sort of bittersweet, but I just try to capitalize on the opportunity (to punt)," Schmidt said. "If I can pin them deep, our defense will stop them and we should get good field position back. I take it upon myself to win field position. To do that, you have to be as consistent as possible."
Schmidt says leg extension and follow through are important for punters. But there's a little-known component that he says is even more important the ball drop.
How Schmidt releases the ball determines if he gets all of it or shanks one.
"I train with the whole foot, and it's all in the drop," said Schmidt, who has had several NFL scouts watch him at practice this season. "I work on all the angles of the drop. Inside, outside, nose tilted, or rotated. You have to have a perfect drop before you have a perfect punt."
Schmidt loves to lift weights with teammates and is muscularly thick. Spending time in the weight room has endeared him to his teammates, Biggs said, and has stacked plenty of muscle onto his 5-11 frame.
"I don't know if he'll ever have a 32-inch waist," Biggs said. "It seems every pro scout is looking for that linear guy. But once they see what Colton can do with the ball, it's all forgotten."
Sacramento State: at Idaho State, 12:30 p.m., 93.1
UC Davis: vs. Weber State, 6 p.m., 1140
Cal: vs. Arizona State, 1 p.m., FX, 810, 950