Texas Tech coaches took an unusual step Thursday night, replacing a senior, going on four-year starter — one who wasn’t a liability — with a talented but unproven understudy.
Sophomore punter Taylor Symmank apparently unseated senior Ryan Erxleben, who was averaging 44.6 yards through two games. Symmank punted six times for a 48.0-yard average in Tech's 20-10 victory against TCU.
“He has been stellar through camp and through the first couple of weeks,” Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday. “We thought it was just that time to make that change and let him go at it. We had every confidence in Erxleben, and he’s been solid around here, but Taylor is a special talent and earned that playing time.”
Erxleben has posted single-season averages of 40.8, 41.7 and 41.8 yards, respectively, as the team’s regular punter for three years.
Symmank transferred to Tech from Southern Arkansas, where he handled punts, placement kicks and kickoffs during his freshman season in 2011. He was on the Tech squad last fall.
After his senior season at McKinney Boyd, he was named honorable mention Class 5A all-state on the Texas Associated Press Sports Editors team.