Although the Jaguars draft class has been under much scrutiny, coach Mike Mularkey was happy with…
Enormous Expectations for Anger
The Jaguars had just finished the third day of their three-day minicamp and most of the 50 players that participated in the weekend camp hurried off the field, escaping temporarily before reporting back for either the start of the Jaguars OTAs on May 15, or to take part in another team's minicamp the following week.
But there sat punter Bryan Anger on hot aluminum bleachers with no shade in sight.
He was answering questions from a trio of writers who grilled him about being selected in the third round of the college draft 10 days earlier.
Anger had already been harshly criticized by local fans and media for his high draft selection, the earliest a punter had been taken in the college draft since 1995. The former California punter was mocked by some analysts on the NFL Network, and one satire magazine, the Onion, published a spoof with a fake quote from Anger saying, "I will punt the Jaguars to greatness."
Anger laughed when telling the story about how his brother had sent him a copy of it and asking, "should we be concerned about this?"
"At first I was like, 'what the heck is going on?'" Anger said. "But I realized it was a big joke. It was funny, comical. I was laughing."
But being a third-round pick is no laughing matter.
A number of Jaguars players taken in that round have gone on to become starters. Vince Manuwai was an eight-year starter for the club as a third-round pick. Current starters Terrance Knighton, Derek Cox and Will Rackley were all taken in the third-round within the last three years.
During the Jaguars mini-camp, Anger was watched closely by Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey who said he timed all of Anger's punts on Saturday and that they had a consistent hang time of 5.1 seconds.
"Rarely do you have a guy that kicks it that far, that can hang it for that long," the Jaguars coach said. "It's either a trajectory shot that is right down the field that's returnable in most cases, but rarely do you see ones that can be kicked that far and hang that high where you can actually go down and defend the return. That's what I saw."
Anger comes to town with impressive numbers while at California. He punted 255 times for a 43.5-yard average. He was a master at angling punts near the sidelines, with 90 of his 255 having been downed inside the 20 yard line. Another 75 punts resulted in a fair catch by the punt returner.
In his four seasons at the school, three of his season averages rank on the school's top ten single-season list, including his school-record average of 45.6 yards per punt set in his junior season in 2010.
Anger has worked hard at perfecting his special talents. Many have said he possesses one of the best kicking legs to come into the NFL in a number of years. Is that through hard work, having great coaching, or just a special gift that he's been given?
"I would just say it's a gift," Anger said. "It's been more than I ever would have imagined. I had no idea. I wanted to play receiver in high school. I didn't want to be just a kicker, so I kind of fought the idea of kicking at first. "But then I started doing well nationally. I realized there was a lot of potential there. Honestly, it's just boomed into something I could have never imagined. I thought I was going to play baseball coming out of high school. I thought I was going to pursue a baseball scholarship and then this just took off and totally changed my life."
Now Anger's task is to try and changed the attitude of Jaguars fans who are still leery of the team's decision to take a punter as the No. 70 overall selection of the college draft when there were so many other needs to fill.
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