Back in 2008, Matt Fodge won the Ray Guy Award, given annually to the nations best punter. After that, Quinn Sharp was equally dangerous as a punter and a kicker, and was the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year. Even Kip Smith did a great job of pinning opponents deep his last season.
I thought with the departure of Smith in 2015, Oklahoma State was left with a huge hole to fill at the punter position. Redshirt freshman Zach Sinor went above and beyond his expectations.
In his first career game, Sinor booted a career long 65 yard punt against Central Michigan. Sinor does not have a great leg. His power is what you should expect of a freshman. Out of 75 punts last year, only seven traveled 50 yards or more. It would be great if Sinor’s 40.3 yards per punt percent jumped inside the 45 percent area, but it’s his accuracy that makes him an extremely dangerous weapon.
Sinor has a knack for putting opponents deep inside their own territory, which works well with a bend but don’t break style of defense. 43 percent of Sinor’s punts were downed inside the 20. Even Mike Gundy said at what point that Sinor "could very well have been responsible for two of our wins."
One of those wins Gundy was referring to, has to have been West Virginia. In one of the ugliest wins in the Gundy era, Sinor had three balls downed inside the 10. He punted eight times for 44.8 yards in the Pokes 33-26 overtime win. Sinor was named Big 12 special teams player of the week the following week.
Sinor was again named the Special Teams Player of the Week after the biggest win of the season. Although you can’t directly credit the Cowboys 49-29 over TCU to Sinor, he had his best game of his young career. Sinor pinned two TCU punts inside the five, including one at the one yard line. The Cowboys gave TCU their first loss in 16 games, thanks to offense, defense and special teams.
Sinor has shown the clutch gene, and helped avoid Iowa State Part II. With 1:44 left in the fourth quarter, an Oklahoma State attempt to run out the clock fell flat. Sinor trotted out and landed his punt on the Iowa State five yard line. The very next play, Jordan Sterns picked off Joel Lanning, and Oklahoma State moved to 10-0 for the second time in program history.
Sinor has the starting punter job on lock for the next three years and should only get better year by year. When he has the ability to switch the field with on swing of the leg, Sinor will be a lethal weapon the Cowboys hope they never have to use.
Special teams in general hopefully will be a strength this season. Ben Grogan might be a little shaky, but he’s more than earned his starting kicker position. Maybe if the Cowboys can get Jalen McCleskey to properly field a punt, they could have the best special teams in the conference.