BGSU Athletics Enlarge
BOWLING GREEN -- The route punter Brian Schmiedebusch took to Bowling Green State University was anything but direct.
Even though Schmiedebusch graduated from Ottawa-Glandorf High School, roughly 45 miles southwest of BG, the route included time at the University of Findlay as a linebacker.
Linebacker? Yes, the 6-4, 215-pound redshirt sophomore said several schools -- including Bowling Green and Toledo -- recruited him to play linebacker.
"Findlay was the only school that offered me [a scholarship]," he said. "I had a couple of offers to walk on, but I really didn't feel comfortable with that.
"I felt comfortable with Findlay, so I ended up signing with them."
Schmiedebusch had an immediate impact with the Oilers, averaging 42.1 yards per punt as a freshman and booting seven of his 38 kicks 50 yards or more while placing 11 inside the 20. He earned All-American second-team honors.
Then he decided to transfer.
"They wanted me to play linebacker, and I didn't want to do that -- I wanted to focus on punting," Schmiedebusch said. "I thought with the season I had, I could do a little better. So I looked into transferring to Division I."
Schmiedebusch transferred to BG and redshirted last season before winning the punting job from Jerry Phillips last spring. What made things more difficult was a switch from being a conventional punter to using a "rugby" style, which involves punting while on the run.
"I started doing it during winter conditioning," he said. "I worked with Bryan Wright, the punter last year, and he helped me with getting the drops down and getting the timing down.
"It took a little bit of time, but it's night and day now."
Schmiedebusch's first punt this year went 51 yards at Idaho, and the second sailed 81 yards -- tying the BG record for the second-longest in school history.
"That got my confidence up," Schmiedebusch said of his early success. "I was feeling good, and the sky was the limit from there. It was a confidence booster, to be sure."
Schmiedebusch leads the nation with his average of 52.5 yards per punt. Of his 12 punts, eight have covered at least 50 yards and six have dropped inside the 20.
"Except for one punt against Morgan State, Brian has been a force," BG coach Dave Clawson said. "He has changed field position with his punts, and they haven't been returnable punts."
Schmiedebusch said the Falcons' net punting average (punt minus return yards) of 47.67 yards per kick, which ranks second nationally, is partially because of the rugby kicks.
"It's hard for the opposing returners to judge where the ball is going to be kicked," he said. "Using the rugby kicks is to our advantage."
Will Schmiedebusch ever push for a starting spot at linebacker?
"I'll leave it to the other guys to do that stuff," he said. "I joke with the guys, saying that if they run towards the sidelines I'm going to smack somebody. But I hope it never comes to that."
INJURY UPDATE: Clawson said he isn't sure if redshirt freshman Bryan Thomas has a torn knee ligament. But Clawson is sure Thomas won't return to the field any time soon.
"He was really coming on," Clawson said. "He was starting to play really well, Fortunately he's young, and hopefully he will come back in the spring."
Most of the rest of the injury news is good for the Falcons. Sophomore offensive lineman Kyle Bryant hopes to return to starting lineup at left tackle, while injured seniors Adrien Spencer and Scott Lewis also could see action.
"They were available last week, and I think they were 70-80 percent," Clawson said of Spencer and Lewis, a Northview grad. "Now they are closer to 90-100 percent.
"For Scott Lewis, that's just amazing. What a great effort. And he's such a tough kid who is so resilient. It's amazing he has come back so quickly."
Kicker Jerry Phillips also will not be play Saturday at Miami.
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com or 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.