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Race Is On a Pace to Do Wondrous Things as the Husky Punter

Porter, tied for seventh in the nation, takes aim at becoming the best all-time at the UW.
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Race Porter has a collage of dark bluish tattoos that run from his kneecap to his ankle on his powerful right leg.

That's nothing compared the footballs he's tattooed.

This sixth-year senior from Seattle is on a healthy pace to finish as one of the nation's most prolific punters this season and as the University of Washington's greatest player at this position all-time.

Entering Friday night's game at Arizona, Porter averages 47.64 yards per boot, which ranks him tied for seventh nationally with Tulsa's Lachlan Wilson. The NCAA leader is San Diego State's Matt Araiza with an ungodly 53.85 average, one of two punters topping the 50-yard threshold.  

Porter currently ranks second in the Pac-12 behind Colorado's Josh Watts, who's sixth in the nation with a 48.69 average. Just a yard difference between the two.

The overly flexible 6-foot-3, 190-pounder for the Huskies for now is taking aim at becoming the No. 1 punter in UW annals, providing he can surpass Kiel Rasp, who holds the school standard at 45.6 yards per kick in 2011.

Not bad for a golfer, wide receiver, basketball player and track man who took up punting at O'Dea High for his stepfather Monte Kohler, who is somewhat of a legendary schoolboy football coach, only because the team didn't have anyone.

At the UW, Porter arrived as a walk-on player without a scholarship, which has since been rectified, and he's served as the holder since 2018 for everyone else's place-kicks, thinking that was a bonus opportunity for him.

"Just being able to go out and hold was special to me," Porter said. "I never thought I'd play."

For two seasons now, he holds and punts, making the most out of a storyline that is really not all that unique to college kickers everywhere. The better ones often show up unappreciated and unfunded, and do wondrous things.

As for Porter, he learned the trade under the tutelage of Australian Joel Whitford, who was his predecessor as the Husky punter. He spent part of his summer working out with the Seahawks' highly proficient Michael Dickson, another Aussie who he met through Whitford.

In a downcast Husky season off to a 2-4 start, Porter is as upbeat as anyone on the roster as he envisions taking his game to the NFL. Dickson's influence just motivated him even more to put his best foot forward and pursue that goal.

"It's been a blast seeing him doing what he's doing in the league and for the punters altogether, being an athlete and doing things with the ball that people don't usually do," Porter said of Dickson. "I've got the ultimate respect for him. Hopefully, I'm going against him here in a little bit."

Snapper A.J. Carty celebrates with kicker Peyton Henry and holder Race Porter.

Snapper A.J. Carty, kicker Peyton Henry and holder Race Porter celebrate after a kick. 

Porter's long punt is 67 yards against California earlier this month, launching a 60-yarder that night as well. He torqued one 63 yards against Michigan. The school record is 82, shared by Sean Douglas and Rasp.

Against UCLA on a brisk night, Porter averaged 51.7 on three punts, which is a testament to his leg strength, sending missiles in the cold air, often complicated by a stiff nighttime breeze coming off nearby Lake Washington.

Among the nation's leading punters, it should be noted that four of the six players ahead of Porter kick in warm-weather or high-altitude locations. Not only is Colorado's Watts sixth on the list, Colorado State's Ryan Stonehouse is second with a 50.22 average. Thin air is a punter's best friend.

Porter remains undaunted in catching up with anyone in terms of performance or average, and continuing to move forward as a punter, and it shows in his approach to the Huskies, which is highly unique for his position.

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"My goal was to be the best player on the team," he said. "It sounds funny having a punter say that, but the mindset that I have is if everyone can step on the field every day trying to be the best player on the football team, and you have a bunch of guys with that mindset, you can do some special things."

Sounds like when the punting career is over, Porter should be coaching somewhere. Maybe his stepfather, the ageless Kohler, who has been at O'Dea for four decades, will retire someday. 

With Arizona holding a nation-worst 18-game losing streak, Friday night's game might not be that competitive for long for the Huskies, but the individual punting duel should be worth watching. The Wildcats' Kyle Ostendorp averages 47.31, which ranks him 11th nationally. Again, he does this in a warm-weather climate.

Porter, of course, wants to be a man for all seasons.

TOP NCAA PUNTERS

1. Matt Araiza, San Diego State, 40 punts, 53.85 average.

2. Ryan Stonehouse, Colorado State, 32, 50.22 

3. Bryce Baringe, Michigan State, 31, 49.19

4. Ryan Rehkow, BYU, 26, 49.04

5. Jordan Stout, Penn State, 29, 48.79

6. Josh Watts, Colorado, 35, 48.69 

7. t, Race Porter, Washington, 25, 47.64

7. t, Lachlan Wilson, Tulsa, 39, 47.64

9. Adam Korsak, Pittsburgh, 36, 47.56

10. Ryan Wright, Tulane, 25, 47.44

11. Kyle Ostendorp, Arizona, 35, 47.31

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