After years of playing football, months of specific training for this one day, punter Paul Layton had finished his routine before the scouts could have finished a cup of coffee.
The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake graduate — state champ as a quarterback/punter/kicker — transferred from UAlbany (where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration) to Temple for his final season of eligibility. He averaged 42.3 yards per punt with the Owls this past season.
Temple had its pro day March 11, a chance for draft prospects to perform in front of NFL scouts, helping teams identify their targets for the draft on May 8. Layton had just 12 punts to showcase his abilities.
“I was probably only out there for five-10 minutes,” Layton said. “It’s pretty wild that you put in so many hours of hard work, then you have about five minutes to show what you can do.”
With the Owls’ practice field being renovated, Layton had to punt on the field hockey field. He spent some time in the days before the pro day trying different cleats on the Astroturf surface to figure out which best would suit him.
Then in front of about 13 pro scouts, he kicked six open-field punts and six directional punts, three to each side of the field. For the directional punts, he said the scouts set up a box extending out eight yards from the sideline and told him to kick it as far as he wanted, but to get inside that box. Four of his six directional kicks were in the box, two just missed.
His open-field punts sailed pretty well, despite the cold air they were flying through.
“I was pretty happy with my performance,” he said. “I don’t know the exact numbers, because we haven’t gotten the stats from any of the scouts yet. But just eyeballing it, it seems like I averaged between 50 and 52. Some hangtimes weren’t the best, but some were very good. Overall, I was pretty happy with it.”
So he would be able to train outside, and comfortably, Layton spent a month in Pensacola, Fla., to prepare with punting coach Mike McCabe.
“The main thing I wanted to improve was my consistency,” Layton said. “We worked a lot on drill work for consistency. We were really breaking down the punt into small units, then putting it all together. I saw my consistency improve, and then I started to work on the routine I was going to do on pro day.”
The trip paid off, and now while he completes his master’s degree in marketing, he just has to wait for a phone call, or several.
“The only scout I really talked to was the Giants scout, because he came over and was the one tossing me the ball,” Layton said. “We worked on some drills where he threw me bad snaps and I would have to adjust. I had a lot of interaction with him, and I think he was really impressed with the directionals. He had positive comments after each of them. The rest of the scouts were on the sideline about 50 yards away, where the balls were landing.
“We’re hoping to hear some feedback within a few weeks, as to whether or not there’s interest or what the interest level might be. It’s definitely a long process.”