Former Mount Airy Bear kicker Tyler Hull recently punted for a New Year’s Day victory for the South Carolina Gamecocks against the Michigan Wolverines during the Outback Bowl held in Tampa, Fla.
Hull then returned to South Carolina and promptly signed for a full scholarship, two days later, under Head Coach Steve Spurrier, on Jan. 3.
Hull said he had received an earlier announcement from Spurrier that his status was as a “preferred walk-on” for the team. Hull was actively recruited with scholarship intention by South Carolina and then rewarded a full scholarship with little ado after the Outback Bowl victory.
“I am living a dream,” said the South Carolina sophomore.
Hull’s jersey number is 13. In a pre-bowl interview, Hull said the number 13 has personally brought him good luck. That declaration proved to hold during the stellar finish against Michigan.
The Gamecocks beat Michigan 33-28, finished seventh in the nation, and completed the 2012 season with an 11-2 record overall.
The South Carolina team left for Florida on the day after Christmas. The Gamecocks practiced at a local high school throughout the week and stayed at a nice hotel, said the punter. The weather on game day cooperated and was around 80 degrees.
“It was nice,” Hull said.
During the morning of the sophomore’s first Outback Bowl Game, Hull put on earphones and went to work doing what he loves. He said he started “punting” and prepared to meet a hungry Big 10 Michigan football team in front of an audience of 70,000 people at the Raymond James Stadium.
“I did not feel nervous, instead I was looking at play schemes and things like that.” After all, he said the crowd was not as big as the one the Gamecocks faced earlier in the season at Louisiana State University.
“I punted real good in warm-ups and I felt confident for the game.”
When the time came, Hull delivered. He punted for a 41-yard average and booted a game best of 50 yards against Michigan. Hull said the Wolverines rushed “like crazy” during the entire game.
During his third and final punt of the game, he said, “I got creamed.”
“I looked for a roughing the punter call but did not get it,” said Hull.
Hull said he realized his goal of maturity was in him when his ability to stay calm remained in the face of “hardcore rushing pressure.” Hull acknowledged Gamecocks’ special team protection.
“I have a shield to try the punt through. The football games in college are so tight on the line,” Hull said.
Hull said the Outback Bowl game proved to be tight on the line. The game ended in a fourth-quarter touchdown scoring skirmish between both teams. The Gamecocks triumphed with a strike to the end zone with around 11 seconds left on the clock.
Hull said the most memorable play of the game for him was when he saw teammate and defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney, deliver a “huge” hit on a Wolverines receiver and force a game-winning turnover.
“Clowney forced a fumble and I got to witness one of the best plays that I have seen, by far.”
After getting the forced fumble, Clowney then recovered it. The Gamecocks quickly scored and took the lead against Michigan.
Hull completed the 2012 season with a 39.4 punting average overall and delivered a season best punt of 55 yards for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
He said his Christmas present and New Year’s wish was delivered when the big win came along with a pair of new shoes in the colors of garnet and black.
The college punter said his resolution every year on New Year’s Day is to be a better person.
This year Hull said he added one more goal.
“I want to improve my punting average every year,” Hull said.