In just one season, Joe Doyle has already made his mark in Tennessee punting lore.
Doyle, a Knoxville native and Farragut High School alumnus, has been named to the USA Today Sports’ Freshman All-American team. The list was announced on Wednesday.
The redshirt freshman was first in the SEC this season with 2,673 total punting yards. He also allowed only 15 yards on eight returns, another conference-best mark.
“This honor is much bigger than one person,” Doyle said in a tweet on Thursday. “This goes to all the guys that cover downfield and of course the snapper (Elijah Medford). Thank you all for making this happen!”
Doyle had 12 punts that traveled 50 or more yards and finished 41.1 yards-per-punt. He tied for second in the SEC as well with 23 punts downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
A standout specialist at Farragut, Doyle punted and kicked field goals for the Admirals and was selected to the Under Armour All-America Game. He originally joined the Vols as a preferred walk-on despite holding scholarship offers from other schools.
“Growing up in Knoxville, this has always kind of been the dream for me,” Doyle said during the season. “I was nervous at first when I stepped on the field (at Tennessee), but after I got a couple punts away I am feeling a lot more comfortable.”
USA Today Sports’ Freshman All-America team also included Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, Georgia offensive lineman Isaiah Wilson and Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II.
Offensive lineman Trey Smith was named to last year’s edition of the list. At least one Vol has been on the team in five of the last six years, with Smith, Chance Hall, Evan Berry, Derek Barnett and Jashon Robertson the most recent.
Tennessee’s history of punting success
Doyle is just the most recent in a long line of successful Vols punters.
Brothers Dustin and Britton Colquitt each were standout punters for Tennessee from 2001-2004 and 2004-2008, respectively, before embarking on NFL careers. Their father, Craig, also punted for the Vols and played in the NFL.
Trevor Daniel evolved from walk-on to arguably Tennessee’s most dangerous special teams weapon during his time with the Vols. He averaged 47.5 yards-per-punt in 2017, downing 28 kicks inside the opponents’ 20-yard line and notching 55 punts that traveled 50 or more yards.
Daniel now plays for the NFL’s Houston Texans.
Michael Palardy, now a punter in the NFL for the Carolina Panthers, served as Tennessee’s punter, placekicker and kickoff specialist his senior year, a combination of roles most specialists aren’t tasked with. And he excelled in each job.
“Michael Palardy … he was the MVP of Team 117,” former Vols head coach Butch Jones said in 2014.