Before the Wildcats travel to Missouri, they gave the locker room at the Joe Craft Football Training Facility a makeover.
At every corner you could find a picture of Grant McKinniss in a Missouri polo. About 30 pictures of the former UK punter were printed off and taped onto walls and windows of the Kentucky locker room. Was the Mizzou punter the Wildcats’ bulletin board material? Not exactly.
“The guys just thought it was funny to put his picture around everywhere,” Max Duffy told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this week. “He was a popular person within the team. He doesn’t take himself too seriously.”
McKinniss’ old friends in Lexington bombarded him with Snapchats of his face in their facility at the beginning of the week. They remained friendly in nature, but it’s the only communication he’s had with UK players this week. Even though Duffy beat out McKinniss to eventually become college football’s top punter, the two have remained close. Each week they discuss their upcoming opponent and gossip about college football’s punting landscape.
“We just talk about guys that we think are good and guys that we think get a little bit too much praise,” Duffy said. “That’s mainly our favorite thing to talk about. Guys that maybe have some stats that exaggerate how good they are, and then the guys that deserve the praise. Also who the good returners are and who the not-so-good returners are.
“Not many people like talking punting, so it’s always good to have someone that enjoys talking about it — all the little things that go into it that people don’t really care about. I can’t say there’d be too many other guys on the team that would enjoy having a punting conversation with me.”
The punting talks used to happen on the UK football practice field. McKinniss helped Duffy learn how kick a tighter spiral, while Duffy helped McKinniss improve his aim to different parts of the field. So far this season it’s worked well for each player. Duffy is once again one of the nation’s top punters, averaging more than 47 yards per punt. In his first year with the Tigers, McKinniss has performed well, booting one kick 66 yards to average 44 yards per punt.