Blake Gideon is not messing around. Ole Miss football’s special teams coach has signed a pair of five-star kickers and a five-star long snapper since his hire and that trend continued earlier this week.
Consensus five-star punter Daniel Bethel committed to play for the Rebels on Tuesday and will bring a big leg to Oxford next fall. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Tennessee native is ranked as the No. 21 punter in the country by Kohl’s Kicking and was a 2020 Top 12 Camp Invitee at Chris Sailer Kicking. He averages 43+ yards with 4.4+ hang time on his punts and has shown the ability to hit 50+ yards punts with 4.8 hang time.
Bethel chose Ole Miss over offers from West Virginia and Colgate and looks forward to playing in the SEC. I took some time to get to know the Rebels’ next boomer. My questions are in bold:
How did you first get into punting/kicking?
It started with my brother. He was a very talented soccer player and picked it up for his high school. When he was a senior, I was coming in as a freshman and my dad had me go out with him to see if I was any good. I did some training with some other coaches after that and really just fell in love with the craft.
Do you play other positions?
I thought about playing safety this year but... I really did not want to stay for a full practice.
When did you know kicking/punting was something you could do on the next level?
Coaches had told me quite often that I had the talent to go play at a big school, but I didn’t really receive any offers until late. When the offers started to come in, I had those feelings validated.
You’re a consensus five-star punter recruit… what does that entail?
I feel like there are two different types of five-star punters. There are guys who have a very consistent B-ball that have a smooth swing and hit a nice, clean ball, often. There are other guys who have really big legs. They sometimes hit C-balls, but when they hit their A-ball, it’s humongous. I feel like I fit into the second category, but I’m working to be more consistent.
What’s the highlight of your career thus far?
I transferred schools before my junior year. At my school sophomore year, against Oak Ridge, I hit a 34-yard field goal and a 46-yard field goal to go ahead by six. They interviewed me after the game and asked my about my mindset going to kick with two minutes left. I told them that to be honest, I didn’t even know that there was two minutes left, I just heard my name called and focused in.
What’s your longest in-game punt?
It was actually this past Friday. I haven’t had many opportunities to punt with room this year, I’ve been mostly inside the 50-yard-line or just outside the 50-yard-line. But on Friday I hit a 49-yarder from the left hash with a four or five second hang time. The return man muffed it at the 1-yard-line and it rolled into the end zone— but it was a really nice ball.
What’s more important to you, hang time or distance?
I like to get distance. I feel like if I just get hang time and hit it higher, I don’t hit it as well. If I drop the ball a little bit lower and drive through, it’s a better ball.
You’re a standard pocket punter, has it always been that way?
Before (Blake) Gideon made anything official, he had me send a few videos hitting some rollouts. Honestly, that was the first or second time I had tried those, and they were solid so he must have liked what he saw. I think that with more practice, I could do that with ease, but I definitely prefer a traditional style.
What did the recruiting process look like with Ole Miss?
West Virginia offered me a preferred walk-on spot first in late August. Everything is usually slower for specialists, and that was definitely the case with me. Colgate is a smaller school and they really wanted me. But when Ole Miss offered the PWO spot, my eyes were set. Once that happened, I wanted to hop on.
Are you ready to step into the shoes of noted bad boi Mac Brown?
Razorbacks will start their drive at their own 45 yardline after a personal foul on punter Mac Brown on the punt return.— Derrell Hart Jr., Pharm.D. (@Derrell_PharmD) September 8, 2019
I usually try to stay calm and cool on the sideline, but there are definitely a few times where you could say that I’ve lived up to the reputation. I remember last year, we were playing in a big rival game and one of the guys nudged me. I tried to sell the personal foul flag, but the referee didn’t call it. I said something back to him about the no-call and he flagged me.
Who are some of the guys you look up to in the special teams world?
Thomas Morstead. I’ve watched him a couple of times in person at a Khol’s camp, and I think he’s very talented. He’s a stand-up guy and I look up to him.
What are your top-three favorite TV shows?
The Office is number one, and then there are the rest.
If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A chicken quesadilla. Chicken, cheese and sour cream. I’m actually eating one right now.
What is playing in your headphones on game day?
I really like Riley Green. ‘I Wish Grandpas Never Died’ is my favorite song.
Is a hot dog a sandwich?
No. I would not say that a hot dog is a sandwich. When I think of a sandwich, the bread does not connect and when you’re eating a hot dog, it connects. So, no.
If Daniel Bethel had a slogan, what would it be?
Enjoy every moment.