Yunker getting a kick out of being a Rebel

Posted: September 14, 2013 in NCAAF
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Las Vegas-native Logan Yunker transferred from UNR,
and is the starting punter for UNLV

By W.G. Ramirez

UNLV punter Logan Yunker spent the first two years of his high school career hitting people on a football field.

A standout linebacker at Northwest Las Vegas’ Arbor View High School, Yunker was a key component for coach Dan Barnson’s defensive unit.

Then one day Barnson held a kicking competition, and lo and behold, Yunker emerged a leg up on his competitors… literally.

“A man very close to the program named Chuck Razmic saw me kicking and saw I had potential,” Yunker said. “He is pretty much the whole reason I became a punter. He’s the one who told me I could really go somewhere for that and that I really (should) focus on that.”

Quick background: Razmic graduated from Rancho High School in 1981, earned a scholarship to Indiana University, where he was a 4-year starter. He finished 7th in the nation his senior season with a 43.9 yard average and went on to sign a free-agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys in 1984. Razmic has coached football and baseball spanning the past two decades at Western, Clark, Silverado, Rancho, Mojave, Shadow Ridge and now Arbor View. Thus, he may know a little something about booting a football.

Yunker’s kicking background came from his years of playing youth soccer, and it paid off for both him and the Aggies.

“He’s one of the best kickers we’ve ever had,” Barnson said. “Freshman and sophomore year he was a linebacker and never kicked the ball once. All of a sudden that summer, he started kicking and became a kicker and he never played linebacker again.”

Yunker, who spent his life growing up in Las Vegas, is a sophomore-transfer from UNR, where he attended one season and redshirted his freshman year. He said he felt he “needed to leave … to grow up,” and since UNR was giving him the most attention, he ended up in Reno. The feeling didn’t last long, however, and with the support of his friends and family, he made the switch, came home and sat out last year due to NCAA rules for transfers. This past August he earned the role of starting punter for the Rebels.

“I’ve always been a Rebel fan … my inner-Rebel didn’t let me be a Wolfpack member, so I ended up coming back (home),” Yunker said.

Barnson said he’s actually surprised his former standout hasn’t started placekicking, as he remembers Yunker having “40+ touchbacks his senior year,” but nevertheless is just glad he’s back in Las Vegas punting for the Rebels.

“He’s a great kid who works hard, he didn’t work out in Reno, came back to UNLV, lucky us we feel and he’s gonna do his thing.”

Fast forward to last weekend, you can imagine how embarrassed Yunker was in his second collegiate game, when the UNLV special teams unit waltzed on the field against Arizona, lined up against the Wildcats and ended up calling a timeout when there was only 10 people ready to defend the punt.

Yunker was standing on the sidelines.

“After the fact I was thinking, ‘really, did I really just do that, in the first home game and my second game ever,'” he said, this past Wednesday after practice at Rebel Park. “I talked to coach and (swore) to him over and over again that’ll never happen again. It’s just my fault, I thought we were going for it and we weren’t. I had to bounce back from that.”

And he did, and all was forgiven, as coach Bobby Hauck laughed it off Monday after his press conference.

“He’s a little bit new to the college football scene, and I don’t know exactly what he thought he heard or didn’t hear,” Hauck said. “He was ready to go, and he just didn’t go in. He thought he heard something else. I don’t know if he was asleep at the wheel or the switch was off, I don’t know.

“(But) he’s done a really nice job and I’m kind of fired up about him. I think as he gets more comfortable (his net punt yardage) is gonna get better. The coverage guys have been doing a real good job when he hasn’t hit the ball as well as he can, they’ve done a really nice job. As he gets more comfortable I think he’s gonna be really good.”

After the first two weeks of the season, which has seen the Rebels catch plenty of flak for their special teams blunders, Yunker has 11 punts and is averaging 44.8 yards per boot, good enough to rank 26th in the nation. After shanking one in his first collegiate punt at Minnesota, he boomed one for 63 yards – his longest of the season, and a distance that is tied for 15th in the country. And while the 6-foot-2 Vegas-native said there have been tough times the past 2-1/2 years he’s questioned his place in the sport, he’s staying positive and loves the decision he’s made to come home,

“There’s a lot of hard work and I’ve worked my butt off … and got it done to where I made it,” he said. “Every week is a new game, every week start new. I’m focused on this game. I’m not focused on last game, or the game before and the mistakes from that game. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve adjusted to them, (and) I’m ready to go. You take it one week at a time.”

More than anything, from a Las Vegas-perspective, he’s another local product who has worked his way onto his hometown team and is making his support team – family, friends and former coaches – proud of his work on and off the field.

“As coaches we love those guys that walk-on and earn their way onto the lineup,” Hauck said. “We have a lot of respect for them and admiration. We’re their biggest fans, and I’m Logan’s biggest fan cause he’s a good guy and he’s really coming into his own.”

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