KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 23: Tennessee Volunteers punter Jackson Ross (98) punts the ball during the college football game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the UTSA Roadrunners on September 23, 2023, at Neyland Stadium, in Knoxville, TN.
Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tennessee's Ambidextrous Punter Can Kick With Both Feet

The Tennessee Volunteers are looking to score a huge upset over the visiting Georgia Bulldogs in Knoxville Saturday, and Vols head coach Josh Heupel is certainly hoping their secret weapon, an ambidextrous punter, can help out.

Redshirt freshman Jackson Ross has been the punter for the Volunteers this year, and he has drawn attention from football fans everywhere for his incredibly unique kicking style.

The 24-year-old Ross has a background in Australian rules football and this is his first year playing the gridiron version of football full time. Not only does he have varying styles of kicking from traditional drop kicks to rugby-style rollouts, but he can kick with either foot.

That's right, the Melbourne native essentially chooses whether to hit the ball with his left foot or right foot just before the snap occurs. This notion worries some Tennessee fans who are worried the varying kicking styles could lead to more mistakes, but that's not how his coaches view it.

Heupel and the Tennessee staff see their unique punter as a weapon in the special teams game who can confuse returners and pin opposing offenses back deep. His athletic prowess doesn't end at kicking the ball either, which shouldn't be a surprise for a guy with an Aussie rules football background.

Volunteers special teams coach Mike Ekeler says Ross is shockingly athletic for a kicker, and they had his 40 yard dash time clocked in the 4.5 range.

"I mean I kid you not, I think he could be a starting wide receiver for us, he's that athletic people," Ekeler told reporters earlier this season. 

Ross himself claims he has the third strongest arm on the team as well. A truly unique athlete for a punter, who has made a big impact already. So far he holds a 43.5 yard per punt average, as he has punted 31 times for 1,349 yards with a long punt of 71 yards.

The Tennessee coaching staff might already be in contact with ProKick Australia, the Melbourne kicking academy that trains Australian rules players into American-style punters and kickers, to find their next freak of nature punter. The "Australian invasion" into kicking rooms across the country has been massive and Ross is happy to be a part of it no matter which foot he's kicking with.

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