BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State punter Clayton Howell has been named a Freshman All-American by The Athletic.
A redshirt freshman from High Point, N.C., Howell ranks ninth nationally and first among FBS freshmen with a net punting average of 41.5 yards.
He averages 43.2 yards per punt with just one touchback, and opponents have been limited to a combined 61 return yards on his 46 punts. Only 15 of his punts have been returned, as there’s been 11 attempts forcing a team to start a drive inside its 20-yard line and 20 attempts that have been fair caught.
From the snaps by senior Elias McMurry to downfield coverage from the likes of Austin Exford, Steven Jones, Desmond Franklin and Akeem Davis-Gaither, it’s been a team effort. Howell was one of only two players from a Group of Five conference team among the 25 freshmen recognized.
Howell’s nine punts of 50-plus yards include a season-long kick of 62 yards that was delivered from his own end zone and downed at the Arkansas State 29. He’s also had punts of 56 and 54 yards from his own end zone this season to go along with a 53-yard punt that was downed at the Penn State 4, a 53-yard punt that was downed at the Louisiana 1 and a 49-yard punt that was downed at the Coastal Carolina 2.
Removing Penn State’s 29-yard return on Howell’s first punt of the season, he has a net average of 42.0 this season, a number that would be tied for sixth nationally.
Howell is the first Mountaineer to be named a Freshman All-American since cornerback Clifton Duck earned that recognition in 2016.