Janesville Parker grad Armer looks for shot as NFL punter

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

You have to go back nine decades to find the last graduate of a Janesville high school to make an NFL roster.

Thomas “Paddy” Cronin, who attended Janesville High School, played four games with the Green Bay Packers at halfback in 1922.

Ben Armer has a good chance to end the drought.

The 2007 Janesville Parker and 2012 Western Michigan graduate hopes his right foot can help him land a job with an NFL team. Armer is a punter. He was one of the 10 finalists for the coveted Ray Guy award in 2012, given to the nation’s outstanding collegiate punter.

Armer had a strong workout in front of several NFL teams at Western Michigan’s Pro Day last month. He hopes his record-setting stats at Western and the right opportunity give him a shot at an NFL career.

“It’s been hectic, but I’m looking forward to the next couple of days,” Armer said. “I graduate on Saturday, and although I probably won’t get drafted, I’m hoping to get a call within two hours of the final (draft) pick on Saturday to see which team wants me to come in for their mini-camp.

“The NFL has gone from 45- to 46-man rosters, so I’m hoping I can compete for one of those extra spots.”

Armer punted all four years at Western Michigan and leaves the program having played in more games than any other player in school history. He averaged 40.9 yards per punt last season, including a 46.5 average against Michigan.

Although Armer’s average distance wasn’t in the top 10 nationally last season, he excelled at pinning opponents deep in their own territory.

“Nobody I saw was better at punting the ball inside the 10-yard line than Ben,” Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit said in an interview this week. “We ran more schemes on our special teams than most teams because of Ben’s ability to put the ball wherever he wanted.

“He’s going to get a shot to help somebody in the NFL, and he deserves it. When we let him just stand back and punt, he could boom them as well as anybody.

“But regardless of where Ben ends up, he’s going to be successful because he was an outstanding student, as well. But I believe for the next few years, his job is going to be in the NFL.”

Armer held private workouts for the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars, but his best chance might be with the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland special teams coach Chris Tabor recruited Armer out of high school while he was running backs and special teams coach at Western Michigan.

“I hope he hasn’t forgot about me,” Armer said in jest. “I haven’t had direct contact with coach Tabor, but I know that coach Cubit has talked to him.”

Armer said he has worked hard on his distance and hang time this offseason in preparing for the expected call to report to a team’s mini-camp. To be successful in the NFL, a punter needs at least a 45-yard net average, along with a hang time near five seconds. Armer said he is hitting both of those marks consistently.

“That would be great to end up in Cleveland, but right now, I just want a chance to get my foot in the door somewhere.”

That would be his gifted right foot.

Last updated: 8:04 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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