There are 135 athletes in NCAA Division III football who have returned enough punts to qualify for the national rankings in punt return average.
Only one of them ranks higher than Ohio Wesleyan junior Kevin Herman.
Herman ranks second in Division III with an average of 25.7 yards per punt return in six attempts, according to the official NCAA website.
Herman broke into the nation’s elite after returning five punts for 157 yards last week against Allegheny. The 157 yards broke the school record set by Tom Liller ’71 against Oberlin on Nov. 9, 1968.
Herman said he enjoys the challenge of a punt return.
“The thing I like most about returning punts is that it sometimes results in an opportunity to have the ball in the open field,” said Herman. “Then you can try to make defenders miss and get as many yards as possible. I also enjoy the fact that I know that the ball is being kicked to me and I know that it is my job to try and make something happen.”
Herman’s record-setting day against Allegheny included an 84-yard return for a touchdown, as well as a 51-yard burst that set up another Bishop touchdown.
Herman also plays running back for the Bishops.
As of October 7, he had an average of 5.8 yards per rush with one touchdown in 11 attempts.
He said he likes playing offense because there is a lot more playing time involved, but individual special teams plays are usually more fun for him.
“That answer would just be based off of how much fun I think it is to return the punts,” said Herman.
Herman also said a special teams play can significantly change the momentum in a game.
“A great special teams play is beneficial for a couple of reasons,” said Herman. “One [is that] it changes field position, and this change in field position can be a big factor in changing the momentum of the game which would then affect the offense and defense, as well.”
Herman said he practices catching punts on a daily basis, and faces a scout punt team twice per week.