For redshirt freshman punter Caleb Houston, however, it’s a bit of a homecoming. Or at least a chance to go back to his parents’ hometown for a game in front of many family and friends. Houston said his father went to Christian Brothers University, which is located next to the Liberty Bowl, and his mother went to Memphis State, now called University of Memphis.
“My mom last count said she had about 50 people coming to the game,” Houston said. “So it’ll be fun getting to see everybody again.”
With so many supporters in the crowd, Houston hopes to have a strong showing in UCF’s trip up to Memphis. He especially wants to avoid a repeat of what he was called upon to do in the waning moments of a win over Penn State.
Houston had to gather a bad snap and got off a punt that would help salvage the result.
“I can remember all these scenarios running through my head,” Houston recalled. “All of a sudden the ball bounced into my hands. I took a quick glance back – cause, well you gotta remember this thing happened to me in high school a few times – I took a quick glance back, I saw I had a little bit of room and I knew I could get the punt off.”
Houston has punted well in his first season playing for UCF. He has averaged 42 yards on 13 punts, with four punts downed inside the 20-yard line. It’s been a solid start after a shaky preseason. Houston said the pressure of punting in a game does not compare to kicking for Knights coach George O’Leary in practice over the summer.
“In a game it’s just me and the snapper,” he said. “But in practice it’s me, the snapper and Coach O’Leary.”
And as for the fans in the stands, Houston said he isn’t worried about whether his mom will have to eschew the Tigers’ blue and gray for Knights' black and gold.
“I think she’d shed any colors for her son,” he said. “So I don’t think it’s a big deal.”