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Monday, May 21, 2012
Top performer: Punter

By Edward Aschoff

Our look at the SEC's most productive returning players in 2012 continues with a look at the league's top returning punters.

Past producers:
The SEC returns seven of the top 10 punters from last season. We're going by average yardage per punt. Note: To qualify, a punter must have at least 2.5 punts per team's games played. The top punter returns, but he'll surely have some tough competition this fall.

Here's a look at the top returning punter by kick average:

Dylan Breeding, Arkansas: He averaged 45.3 yards per punt last fall, with a long of 70 yards. Breeding pinned 16 of his 53 punts inside opponents' 20-yard line and had 17 punts of 50 or more yards. Breeding has one of the best legs in the league, but is also pretty accurate. His leg became another defensive weapon for the Razorbacks and he returns as one of the school's top punters. With a new defensive coordinator and some missing defensive parts from last year, Breeding will be even more important for the Hogs when the offense falters.

The SEC returns six more of the top 10 punters:
Punting can be a little more predictable than place-kicking, so Breeding has a pretty good shot of retaining his crown. If Arkansas' offense didn't eat into his production last year there might not be concern of it happening again. Campbell should challenge Breeding because Ole Miss' offense is looking to install a new offense this fall, and that will take some time for players to get used to.

Obviously, Wing is someone who could push for the top average as well. He has a cannon for a leg and has pinpoint accuracy. He's also the most entertaining kicker out there.

Definitely keep an eye on Missouri's Trey Barrow. He was second in the Big 12 in punting average (44.8) and had a long of 74 yards last season. He also pinned 10 kicks inside the 20 and had 18 punts of 50 or more yards.

Florida's Kyle Christy averaged 40.9 yards per punt last year, but didn't meet the criteria of having at least 2.5 punts per his team's games. He also struggled to crack the starting lineup at first before starting the last seven games of the season. If he can start things off as the Gators' starter, he could push for the crown.

Texas A&M's Ryan Epperson could also challenge for the throne after he averaged 41.2 yards per punt and pinned 19 kicks inside the 20. He had a long of 68 yards and booted 10 punts for 50 or more yards.

Keep an eye on Joe Mansour and Jay Willmott at Kentucky, as they battle for the starting spot.