Barney Amor: Penn State’s Newest Field Flipper
The punter position is one that often doesn’t get much attention, so much that ‘punters are people too’ has become a popular phrase coined by the punter community to try and gain it.
Following Penn State’s 33-14 victory against Central Michigan on Saturday, all eyes are on the Nittany Lions’ punter, Barney Amor.
Amor is beginning to become a household name in Happy Valley, however, it wasn’t too long ago when he was introduced to most of Nittany Nation after receiving a scholarship from the school via Eli Manning. Or also, when he gracefully belted out Kelly Clarkson while eating a chocolate chip cookie post-practice just a couple days later.
Now, after a sizzling hot start to the season, Amor’s starting to be recognized for his performance on the field.
Amor made his impact felt on Saturday against Central Michigan and stood out in a positive way on a day where Penn State’s kickers missed two field goals and one extra point. He showcased his powerful leg and pinpoint precision, placing three out of four punts inside the 20 (the “missed” one he punted from Penn State’s nine).
There was even one that took a wicked 90-degree whorl and went out of bounds at Central Michigan’s three-yard line that you just have to see to believe.
“I’d say it’s 70% skill and 30% everything else… luck, wind, how wet the ground is,” Amor said.
The Nittany Lions had four takeaways against the Chippewas, and Amor can be accredited with at least one of them. He sent a moon shot into the atmosphere of Beaver Stadium, sailing 51 yards to the Central Michigan 10-yard line where it was muffed by the Cippewas’ Jordyn Williams and recovered by Curtis Jacobs.
“I mean, obviously that was an absolute nuke,” Amor said. “But he could’ve just caught it… So I think the best thing to say is just do your job and do it to the best of your ability.”
Amor has been doing his job splendidly so far this season, averaging 46 yards a boot. But even more so, nobody has been returning them. He's placed 10 of his 18 punts inside the 20-yard line and the majority of those inside the 10, providing a small amount of room for any runbacks.
“My job is to put the ball inside the 10. If that ball lands anywhere inside the 10, that’s me doing my job,” Amor said. “Last week, when it lands like three blades of grass from the end zone, that’s a little questionable.”
It seems like every one of his kicks dies inside the 10-yard line, so much so that it’s s surprise when it doesn’t.
Amor has been a welcomed addition to Penn State’s special teams unit and he’s making an early argument for the nation’s best punter, a year after the Nittany Lions lost Jordan Stout to the NFL.
“I learned so much from being behind [Stout],” Amor said. “I’m having success right now and part of that is because I was behind Stout last year. When he’s not doing something right, I’m looking at him going ‘oh, hey, you’re doing this wrong.’ And now I’m looking at myself and going ‘oh wait, that’s what Stout used to do, I should just do this instead’ and that’s how I fix it.”
He’s come a long way, but not just as Stout’s former backup. A redshirt senior, Amor began his collegiate career at Colgate and didn’t see action until 2019. But he made it count finishing the season ranked second in the Patriot League with an average of 42.1 yards per punt.
His momentum came to a halt however, when Colgate’s 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID-19 and Amor ended up living with his girlfriend for a year because he couldn’t go back to his family in Switzerland.
Throughout the time spent with his girlfriend, he was working out and looking for another team that could utilize his talented leg. Amor reached out to just about every coaching staff in college football, and when Penn State’s coaches finally got back to him offering him a walk-on try out, he couldn’t accept the invitation fast enough.
Now, Amor is the starting punter for one of the biggest college football programs in the country, and along with the support of his teammates, his confidence has gained a huge boost because of it.
“I think I’ve definitely worked on my confidence. And that’s half of my position,” Amor said. “I feel like I’ve developed as an individual and that’s translating to football.”
He’s developed himself into one of the best players on one of the best teams in the country, and is a big part of that success.
For Amor, it paid to trust the process, but it's only just getting started. He's out to prove that punters are people too.
Zach Donaldson is a fifth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.