Most people who meet Will Monday wouldn’t guess he punts for Duke football. The 6’4” 210 lb. southern boy stands out in a crowd.
“Everybody’s like, ‘You must be a quarterback or wide receiver or something,’” he said with a slight drawl. “I’m like, ‘Nope, just a punter…’ They’re just like, ‘Oh, you must be pretty good.’”
This year Monday was voted to the Preseason All-ACC team as a redshirt-sophomore. Not too bad for a guy who started punting as a freshman in high school.
“I could always kick a soccer ball a long ways,” he said. “I always wanted to try football. I always wanted to play. I just never did.”
Watch out opposing ACC teams. A year after leading the ACC with 44.6 yards per punt, he said he has been working to be more consistent.
“There were games where I was kind of spotty,” he said. “Wasn’t always hitting my B ball. I was hitting more C’s and D’s with an A here and there.”
One of those “A” punts came in the Belk Bowl last year. Monday had a monster punt that tumbled down the sideline and turned away from the end zone. The 79 yard effort was the longest in a Duke bowl game.
“I didn’t really see the ball,” he said. “I just felt it off the foot, and I knew it was a pretty good ball, obviously. It kind of just took off, and I could see him [the return man] jog to the sideline. I thought it was high enough where he could get over there and catch it for sure. But he just didn’t put that much effort into it and didn’t really try and stop it. Then I kept running down, and I’m like, ‘Oh crap’…I was really pumped.”
He said he gets a different kind of “Oh crap” feeling when facing down the punt rush.
“Whenever you look at the line and you’ve got 10 guys on the line looking like they are about to come right at you,” he said. “Then you’re kind of like, ‘Oh crap, I’ve got to speed this up. Let’s go.’”
He didn’t have any punts blocked this past year, but he did say he was working to improve the hang time and location of his punts.
“We had two returned [for TD’s] on us last year,” he said. “That really hurt our net [punt average], and that caused us to be second in the league instead of first in the league in net. Even though that’s not directly my stat, it has to do with all 11 players on the field. That’s a big team stat. That’s really important to our coaching staff, and it’s really important to me.”