NFL Draft

2020 UDFA Player Profiles: South Alabama P Corliss Waitman

With the 2020 NFL Draft in the books, we’re wrapping things up by offering player profiles on all the UDFAs signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The franchise’s history is strong with diamonds in the rough though in recent years. Hopefully the can find some who may have been overlooked in this year’s group.

#87 Corliss Waitman / P South Alabama – 6015 213

The Good

  • Capable of above average hang time
  • Solid average of 43.5 over his two years as primary punter
  • 28% of 2018 punts were inside the 20
  • Only 3 touchbacks in 2018
  • Experience kicking off and as a holder

The Bad

  • Did not punt in 2019 due to extra year of eligibility being denied
  • Didn’t show ability to directionally punt
  • Struggled with distance on punts out of own end zone

Bio

  • 158 punts, 6,740 yards, 42.7 Ave
  • 2019 – Denied 6th year of eligibility after transfer to Mississippi State
  • 2017, 2018 – Starting punter for South Alabama
  • 2017 – First team All-Sun Belt averaging 45.2 yards per punt
  • 2015 – Suffered season ending knee injury making a tackle
  • Experience holding on field goal and kicking off
  • In high school, Also lettered in basketball, soccer and track
  • Born in Ghent, Belgium
  • Athletic family includes father (South Alabama), cousin (Georgia) and aunt (Texas) lettering in basketball in college, an uncle lettering in football (Florida State)
  • Major is communication, is also minoring in marketing

Tape Breakdown

Steelers punter Jordan Berry had a strong two thirds of a season in 2019 before struggling over the last five games. Competition is brought in every year to compete with the specialist so its not a surprise the brought in a UDFA punter.

Enter Corliss Waitman, a left footed punter who last played in 2018 for South Alabama.  He was going to transfer to Mississippi State for one more year and was expecting to get approved for an extra year of eligibility after losing a season to injury but alas it was denied.

Waitman had a solid year in 2018 that included 67 punts for 2,792 yards for 41.7 yard average.  Per The Football Database those kicks resulted in 3 touchbacks and 19 inside the 20 with a long of 58.  His net average was 37.9 with 18 punts being returned for 193 yards.

He also handled kickoffs and was the holder for extra points and field goals.

Left footed punters have become more common in the NFL.  Bill Belichick has almost exclusively used left footed punters and in 2017 and 2018 ten teams has employed them. The idea is that the ball obviously spins in the opposite direction than right footed punters making it harder to catch leading to bobble and hesitations giving coverage teams an advantage. I don’t how effective this in on NFL returners but I saw at least a handful in the games I watched for Waitman that it looked like the returners were having issues.

He shows a smooth, quick two step release and was able to generate good hang time for his coverage team. He is a traditional style punter only using a rugby kick once late in the half to try and run out the clock.  On kickoff he has a strong enough leg to reach the end zone but often used shorter kicks to force fair catches. As a holder, he looked relaxed and did a nice job adjusting to the ball up on poor snaps.

At Mississippi, here is a distance kick.  This will travel about 53 yards. Not a great hang time but effective.

 

At Mississippi, he shows his hands on the extra point handling the high snap and getting it down in time.

 

Vs Oklahoma State, here is a kick in which the spin seemed to play with the returner. The returner is tracking it and calls for a fair catch but it lands behind him and rolls deep in his zone.

 

At Oklahoma State, this gets about a 5 second hang time and he gets the ball to check up at the five for a net 52 yard kick.

 

At Georgia Southern, one more good kick.  This has about a 4.7 hang time and is about 51 yards in the air with a net of 42.

He didn’t angle his kicks keeping them in the middle of the field.  The only struggles I notice was when rushed kicking from his own end zone. I saw three of those kicks and not of them was for above average distances.

Berry’s numbers were good last year despite his late season struggles. You also have to consider the familiarity as a holder with Chris Boswell. Waitman will be able to give him competition but barring a complete breakdown I would expect Berry to retain his position. It’s unlike they will keep a punter on the practice squad but this will be a chance for Waitman to impress other teams.

Chance to make the team: 1%

Games Watched:  2017 – At Mississippi, At Georgia Southern; 2018 – At Oklahoma State, At Georgia Southern, Vs Coastal Carolina,

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