When last season's extremely talented freshman punter entered the transfer portal and moved on to Nebraska, there was some obvious concern.

After all, the kicking game is a big deal at Montana. And that unexpected departure of Brian Buschini, from Helena, left coaches uncertain of what to expect in 2022.

It didn't take long for Grizzly football staff and fans to see how bright the future will be, in the form of another freshman, another Montana kid. This one from Kalispell. And he is receiving some national attention for his performance this season.

University of Montana Sports Information Director Eric Taber tells us that today (Monday) Griz punter Patrick Rohrbach was recognized as one of the best in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), as the Augusta Sports Council named him a semifinalist for FCS Punter of the Year.

Rohrbach, a true freshman, has already made one cut, now being one of only 10 semifinalists for the award, chosen from a field of 30 candidates. Patrick was already named first team Big Sky Conference punter two weeks ago.

To get nominated, Pat had to check a lot of Augusta Sports Council boxes. Candidates were evaluated on their overall statistics and their contribution to the team. According to the Augusta press release, "A high emphasis was placed on net punting average, number of punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line, total yardage punted, average returned yardage, and percentage of punts not returned."

All Rohrbach did this season was total 2,170 yards on 48 punts, including 18 inside the opponent's 20 yard line, along with crushing 15 punts of 50 or more yards with a long of 68. He finished the year with the third-best average in the FCS at 45.2 yards per attempt. That requires a team effort, and his mates got down the field in a hurry, as Montana's punt coverage unit posted the second-best net punt average in the FCS this season at 41.52 yards.

At 5'11" and 177 pounds, Patrick's stature won't overwhelm you. But his talents have also made him a semifinalist for the Stats Perform Jerry Rice Award that goes to the nation's top freshman player at any position.

A national voting body will choose the punter of the year from the list of 10 semifinalists. interestingly enough, another semifinalist was just in Missoula 9 days ago: Zach Haynes of Southeast Missouri State. The Griz knocked the Redhawks out of the FCS playoffs, 34-24, a week ago Saturday night.

The FCS Punter of the Year winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 13. Best of luck to Patrick!

2022 FCS Punter of the Year Award Semifinalists

  • Aaron Trusler, Richmond
  • Austin Dunlap, Southeastern Louisiana
  • Bradley Porcellato, Samford
  • Corey Petersen, Campbell
  • Jake Gerardi, Southern Utah
  • Patrick Haughney, Holy Cross
  • Patrick Rohrbach, Montana
  • Trey Wilhoit, Eastern Illinois
  • Will Whitehurst, William & Mary
  • Zach Haynes, Southeast Missouri

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