By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - Justin Brockhaus-Kann patiently awaited the snap, caught the ball and boom.
USF's punter reached new heights in the team's last game at Temple when he connected on a 60-yarder to set a new career high.
"He changes the field for us now on a more consistent basis," special teams coordinator Vernon Hargreaves said.
This is Brockhaus-Kann's third go-round as USF's primary punter and he's proven to be a major bright spot for the Bulls at the season's midpoint. The redshirt senior initially set a new career high with a 58-yarder in Week 3 against Rutgers and he currently ranks third in the Big East with an average of 41.1 yards per punt attempt.
"My confidence is at an all-time high. I never truly lost confidence, but there were times I questioned what I was doing in previous years," he said.
Those who follow USF football are very aware of what he's talking about. Brockhaus-Kann's average was in the 40s at this point the past two seasons only to see it drop to the 30s during the stretch run.
"Punting is a lot like golf. It doesn't take much to fix or mess up what you're doing. If you can focus on everything you're doing every time, it's going to be the same every time," he said.
Brockhaus-Kann's ability to zero in on the task at hand increased dramatically this past offseason when he knew his job was on the line. He lost weight while spending more time working on his legs in the gym and his mindset improved as well.
"I think that's going to help me stay consistent in the next six games, where I won't have a drop-off like I've had the past two years," he said.
USF certainly tested Brockhaus-Kann's ability to focus on a daily basis in fall camp when he competed for the job with Mattias Ciabatti. Day after day, each punt was charted and the constant battle ended up benefitting a player that's on track to set a new career high in punts inside the 20 with 12 in the books already.
"It helped me in camp because I had to come-from-behind again. I came out and knew what I had to do," he said.
Brockhaus-Kann's ability to produce in a workmanlike manner in camp certainly helped state his case as well. Instead of having a sense of entitlement as an upperclassman, Brockhaus-Kann let his leg do all the talking during the tryout in Vero Beach.
"He competed like we asked him to compete. He wasn't moping and just kept competing," Hargreaves said. "Coach (Skip) Holtz and I felt like he would be the guy that would give us the best opportunity, especially early in the year."
One thing that will stay consistent is the coaching staff keeping a close eye on Brockhaus-Kann the rest of the way on his road to redemption. Holtz said he knows the ability to get the job done is there and Brockhaus-Kann trusts himself a lot more heading into his first second-half test at Louisville.
"Right now I feel like I'm as smooth as I've been in my operation and I feel I'm not going to drop off," he said. "It's nice to know that all the guys on the team rely on me."