Tyler Sarrazin signed with Southern Miss to become the Golden Eagles’ kickoff specialist.
He became one of the best punters in Conference USA.
“I was recruited, honestly, as a kickoff guy,” Sarrazin said. “Coach Woz (special teams coordinator John Wozniak) wanted to get the ball in the end zone a little bit more and in high school I was pretty decent at that. He saw me at the Alabama camp the summer before my senior year, so he got me in to do that.”
But the game plan changed when former USM kicker Corey Acosta turned into a solid kickoff specialist.
“Corey ended up having a heck of a junior and senior season,” Sarrazin said. “It turned out I was just molded to be a punter in college.
“It did (turn out well). I’m not complaining.”
Sarrazin punted in seven games as a freshman and was the regular punter as a sophomore and junior, excelling at keeping the opposition in poor field position. Now as a senior, he is averaging 44.3 yards per punt, good enough for second place in Conference USA.
He claims the progress came mostly from hard work and going to a camp in Orlando last winter.
“Coming out of high school, my main thing was kickoffs, so transitioning to college and becoming a punter, putting in the work with drops and steps was necessary,” he said. “So I’ve been working on that a lot, just focusing on the punting aspect. It’s turned out pretty well so far.”
Sarrazin would like to see his Southern Miss career get even better with a win over LSU on Saturday night in Baton Rouge.
Maybe that’s because he was born in Baton Rouge and grew up in Geismar, La., which is about 20 miles right down Interstate 10 from Tiger Stadium.
“Born and raised (an LSU fan),” Sarrazin said with a chuckle. “My uncle gets season tickets every year. My grandmother, her room is decorated with LSU stuff. Yeah, born and raised one.”
That changed when he signed with Southern Miss. Sarrazin will be playing before several family members when he kicks off — yeah, he’s doing that much of the time, too — for Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. game.
“They’re excited to see a Sarrazin play in Tiger Stadium,” said the exercise science major who has made the C-USA commissioner’s academic honor roll for three years. “That’s what it’s about, seeing somebody that they know, somebody that is related to them, on that field other than random people that they cheer for, so that’ll be fun.”
Because former Gulfport High School kicker Stephen Brauchle was injured in the season opener against Kentucky, Sarrazinhas has kicked off much of this season in addition to punting.
“It was unfortunate that he went down with an ankle injury against Kentucky,” Sarrazin said. “He’s been battling back and it’ll look like he’ll be back, then he’ll re-hurt it. It’s kind of a week to week thing, to see how he is. Until he’s back, I’ll do what the coaches ask.”
Who: Southern Miss vs. LSU
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Baton Rouge
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 104.9 FM