The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Top Cat: Into Orbit

Before Saturday’s Eastern-Southeast Missouri game, special teams coach Matthew Smiley noticed how strong the wind was.

“If Kevin (Cook) gets a hold of one he could kick it 80 yards,” He joked with his special teams unit.

Smiley was only joking, but red-shirt senior punter Kevin Cook made his coach’s joke a reality when he launched his first punt of the game 86 yards, rolling out at the SEMO five-yard line.

The punt was the longest in Eastern’s Division I football history, and seven yards shy of the longest punt in NCAA history.

“The 86-yard punt was exactly how we practiced it, it is exactly how I drew it up,” Smiley joked. “He executed my gameplan perfectly.”

When the punt was downed at the five-yard line, the Eastern sideline erupted in excitement, which was a surprise according to Cook.

Now, Cook said all of his teammates joke with him about how he expects to top the 86-yarder, which beat Cook’s previous season-long of 75 yards.

Cook said he felt like he hit the 86-yarder the same as he had connected on the 75-yarder, which he kicked against Tennessee-Martin on Sept. 18.

Even though he kicked the two balls the same way, Cook said the wind carried the 86-yarder further than the 75-yard punt carried. Cook said he kicked the 75-yarder on a calm day in Martin, Tenn.

Against the Skyhawks, Cook punted the ball eight times – five of them were downed inside the 20-yard line.

Eastern head coach Bob Spoo said Cook had a “big league day” Saturday as he averaged 50.2 yards per punt, with three of his four punts being downed inside of the 20-yard line.

In fact, Cook’s second punt was downed at the SEMO two-yard line. His fourth punt was downed at the 18-yard line.

Cook is second in the nation in punting, averaging about 45 yards per punt. He was the best in the nation Saturday, prompting the Libertyville native to be named the Sports Network/ National Special Teams Player of the Week.

“That is the best honor I can get,” Cook said.

Cook also was named the Ohio Valley Conference Specialist of the Week.

This season, Cook has downed 13 punts inside the 20-yard line and has 10 punts that were 50 yards or more.

He doesn’t know which punt this season was better – the 75-yarder or 86-yarder – but he said the 86-yarder is one of them.

“It’s up there,” Cook said.

Alex McNamee can be reached at 581-7944 or [email protected].

Top Cat: Into Orbit

Top Cat: Into Orbit

Red-shirt senior punter Kevin Cook focuses on the ball as he punts it in practice on Wednesday at O’Brien Field. Cook booted an 86-yard punt in the Panther’s losing effort against Southeast Missouri Saturday. (Jordan Boner


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