As crazy as it sounds, the Florida Gators’ punter, Johnny Townsend, was one of the top players in the 2016 season. Johnny Townsend did a terrific job flipping the field for the Florida Gators defense. One of the many reason Johnny cracks the list is because of how bad Florida’s offense was this past season. Johnny Townsend was on the field a little bit more than fans would like. Johnny Townsend is arguably the best punter in the country and Florida fans are glad to have him.
Who’s Johnny Townsend?
Johnny Townsend was the starting punter for the 2016 Florida Gators. Johnny’s backup punter was actually his younger brother, Tommy Townsend. Tommy and Johnny Townsend both attended Boone High School is Orlando, Florida. In Johnny’s senior year of high school, he was invited to play in the Army All-American Game as a punter/kicker. As a 3 star recruit, Johnny Townsend got a lot of attention from big schools. As a high school punter or kicker, player don’t usually get full scholarships. Johnny was good enough to get not one, not two but three D1 full scholarships. Johnny Townsend got the three offers from Cincinnati, Florida and Ohio State. Ohio State was the favorite to land Johnny Townsend but, he decided that the University of Florida was a better fit for him. Even though he didn’t make headline, Florida knew that got themselves a great punter to contribute.
Johnny Townsend at Florida
Johnny Townsend arrived at the University of Florida in the summer of 2013. Johnny’s first year as a Gator would go great for him but very bad for his team. Florida suffered its worst season ever as the Florida Gators finished 4-8 which didn’t qualify them for a bowl game. Johnny would play in the final six games of the season due to Kyle Christy going down with an injury. Johnny was voted into the All-SEC freshman team. He would also be named to the SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll.
With a healthy Kyle Christy, Johnny Townsend would sit out the entire season giving him a rare redshirt sophomore season. Christy would graduate after that season leaving with two Ray Guy Awards. Johnny Townsend had some big shoes to fill in that position. Johnny wasn’t afraid of his big expectations after his freshman season. He was ready for the 2015 season.
With Jim McElwain as Florida’s new head coach, Johnny Townsend and the Florida Gators excelled in the 2015 season and did a lot of great things. The 2015 Gators finished with a 10-4 record and winning the SEC East division. Johnny did his job as Florida asked a lot of him with a young, struggling offense. He was named First Team All-SEC by ESPN.com and Gridiron Now. He was also named Second team All-SEC by Coaches and AP polls.
In 2016, Johnny Townsend would be named to the Ray Guy Award watch list in the preseason. Even though Johnny didn’t make it as a finalist, he was more than worthy of receiving the Ray Guy award. Johnny Townsend finished the season with 60 punts and 48.1 yard/punt which is third in the country. Johnny Townsend should be the frontrunner for the Ray Guy Award next season, if he comes back.
What does the future hold for Johnny Townsend?
With the NFL Draft quickly approaching, redshirt juniors, juniors and redshirt sophomore have big decisions to make. With Johnny Townsend being a redshirt junior, he is eligible to enter the NFL Draft. It is extremely rare to see special teamers leave to the NFL early. Johnny Townsend should and is expected to return to Florida for his redshirt senior year. If he does stay, then Florida should have one of the top special teams in the nation with Townsend, Pineiro and Callaway.
If Johnny does decide it go to NFL, one team will get themselves a great secret weapon. Johnny Townsend has been known as “a defense’s best friend” because of his ability to pin the opposing team deep in their own territory. Whether Johnny Townsend is in Orange and Blue or in an NFL roster, he will always be a Gator. He was even able to convince his brother, Tommy Townsend, to leave Florida’s hated rival, Tennessee, to be a Gator. The Townsend family’s blood is filled with orange and blue. Just the way it should be.