The Washington Post

Freshman Michael Branthover gets the call at punter for Virginia Tech

Despite the early-season struggles of punter Scott Demler, Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer had been adamant in his belief that the junior would eventually figure things out. But a week after his punter was booed off the field in a home loss to Clemson, Beamer opted to make a change.

True freshman Michael Branthover, a two-time All Met from DeMatha, saw his first action of the season during the second half of the Hokies’ 38-35 victory over Miami on Saturday. His first punt went a season-long 52 yards without a bounce, a development that drew a standing ovation from the sold-out Lane Stadium crowd.

Branthover didn’t need to attempt a punt until the third quarter because of the success of Virginia Tech’s offense, which gained a season-high 482 yards.

His debut wasn’t without its flaws, though. Branthover’s second punt went just 32 yards and set Miami up inside Virginia Tech territory for what turned out to be the touchdown drive that gave the Hurricanes their first lead of the game late in the fourth quarter.

But it seems the Dayton, Md., native earned another chance next week when the Hokies travel to Wake Forest.

“Branthover has got the strongest leg and he’s got the quickest kicking time,” Beamer said. “He’s been a little bit erratic, but I said I’m gonna ride those two things. I think he’s got a great future.”

Mark Giannotto is a Montgomery County native who covers high school sports for The Washington Post. He previously covered Virginia and Virginia Tech football for five years.


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