Guardians Get Their Guy; Sign Punter Johnny Townsend to Enhance Special Teams Potential
The XFL's Orlando Guardians make an impactful move, signing the experienced Punter Johnny Townsend just weeks before the start of the season. Let's discuss that;
Townsend, a Florida native, had a standout career at Florida State University. He punted 240 times over 44 games, averaging an incredible 46.2 yards per punt throughout his four years with the Gators. What's more impressive, was that he finished his University career as the all-time leading punter in program history and even broke SEC records by setting a new career punting average with his 46.2 yards.
Johnny Townsend was one of the few lucky kickers to be actually drafted in the NFL, as the Oakland Raiders selected him in the Fifth Round. He held on to the starting position and played 16 games for the Raiders in 2018, where he punted 70 times for an average of 43.2 yards per punt. This was unfortunately a significant enough drop in production for Oakland to release Johnny the next pre-season.
Despite being released in 2019, he didn't give up on his dream of playing professional football. He spent a year working on his craft and was picked up by the Baltimore Ravens during the 2020 season, where he only played 1 game. He received a look from the Tennessee Titans but wasn't able to secure a roster spot. Interestingly enough, Johnny got an opportunity to play for the Kansas City Chiefs when his brother, Tommy Townsend, caught Covid-19. Overall, Tommy has played in 21 NFL games, punting 85 times for an average of 43.3 yards per punt.
Even though he may not have had the same level of success in the NFL as he did in college, Townsend's potential is undeniable. The Orlando Guardians, and their fans, are lucky to have a hometown product on the inaugural season roster. The team had originally selected Andrew Anckle in Round 3 (Pick 22) in the 2023 XFL Specialist Draft but released him on January 24th before signing Townsend. With professional experience and a proven holder for Kicker José Borregales, Townsend is sure to make a significant impact on the Guardians' special teams unit.