The Best Punter You’ve Never Heard of

On Tuesday, the Black College Football Hall of Fame released their watchlist for their Black College Football Player of the Year Award. On it were ideal candidates like Jackson State quarterback Shedeur Sanders and Celebration Bowl MVP Shaq Davis.

Many were probably surprised that a punter made the watchlist among some of the brightest stars in Black College Football. And a punter from one of the worst teams in Division II.

Achille Laudet of Philadelphia’s Lincoln University landed a spot on the Black College Football Hall of Fame Player of the Year watchlist. Since the award’s inception in 2016, Laudet is the first punter to make the watchlist. If you look deeper, it shouldn’t be surprising.

To say, Lincoln’s offense was putrid would be polite. The Lions only scored 61 points on 10 games, with only 6 offensive touchdowns. The offense also failed to average 200 yards per game.

With this context, it’s easy to see why awards selectors have high regard for Achille Laudet. Despite missing three games, Laudet had an outstanding year for Lincoln.

Laudet punted 42 times for a 42 yard average. 10 of those punts went over 50 yards and 7 were downed inside the 20. His 10 50-yarders led the CIAA. Additionally, Laudet handled kickoffs, kicking 4 touchbacks in 16 returns. For an offense so bad, to say Laudet was their most valuable player is very reasonable.

Laudet had some signature performances. Against Gardner-Webb, an FCS school, he had his highest average of the season, with his 8 kicks averaging 48.6 yards with two landing inside the 20 and three exceeding 50 yards.

In Lincoln’s only win against Elizabeth City State, he only had three punts, but two were downed inside the 20 and one was fair caught. One of his punts placed Elizabeth City State on their own 12-yard line. Three plays later, ECSU fumbled and gave Lincoln a first and goal from the three, which they capitalized on with a touchdown. Laudet also had 2 carries for 23 yards, with a 19-yard run. The 19-yard run was Lincoln’s third-longest run play of the season.

College football awards have so many different factors in picking winners and that is evident here. Laudet has an uphill battle in winning Black College Football’s highest honor. First, Lincoln needs to have a great season for Laudet to even be in the conversation.

Since resurrecting their program in 2008 after a 48-year hiatus, Lincoln has never won more than 3 games in a season. This year, expectations are low again with Lincoln picked to finish last in the CIAA.

Lincoln’s schedule does have marquee games in and out of conference play. To begin the season, Lincoln plays at MEAC contender Delaware State and Central State out of the SIAC, who went 1-9 last year. A 2-0 start with both games being defensive struggles could make Laudet an early-season front runner. An upset over Delaware State is especially important to Laudet’s candidacy.

However, after this, the Lions will have a tough road in CIAA play. The Lions draw both CIAA Championship game participants in Fayetteville State and Bowie State. If the Lions can somehow get their first winning season since 2008 with strong defensive play, Laudet may be a dark horse for Black College Football player of the year.

Even if, Achille Laudet doesn’t crack the top-10 or even top-20 of the Black College Football Player of the Year voting, he has already done enough to make you want to remember his name.

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