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Former N. Laurel resident becomes two-sport star at Salisbury

Former N. Laurel resident becomes two-sport star at Salisbury
Kyle Hamby, who grew up in North Laurel, is the closer for the Salisbury baseball team in the spring. In the fall, he’s the punter on the Sea Gulls’ football squad. (Photo by Christian Ennerfelt)

Kyle Hamby grew up in North Laurel and at the age of 7 began messing around with a football at Cedar Lane Park in Columbia.

About two years later, he joined his first organized team, the Columbia Ravens.

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While many of his friends gravitated to throwing the ball as a quarterback or carrying the ball as a running back, Hamby developed a less glamorous pursuit: kicking the ball.

"You don't get to play too much" as a kicker or punter, he said.

Hamby became interested in punting at an early age, a pastime that usually comes later when a player is not used as a regular on offense or defense.

"I could punt it the farthest, I guess. I really didn't know what I was doing," he said.

That early introduction to punting, which was nurtured in high school at powerhouse Good Counsel in Montgomery County, has served Hamby well.

Hamby is now a senior punter at Salisbury University and has attracted the attention of at least one NFL team, the Washington Redskins.

That is almost unheard of for a Division III punter, according to longtime Salisbury head coach Sherman Wood.

Last year the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Hamby was named an All-American by several outlets, including D3football.com. But the coach said he also has a strong work ethic.

"Obviously he is a quality punter," said Wood, the former head coach at Bowie State. "He is an incredible person and punter. He is also the healthiest-eating person I have ever seen in my life."

Wood still recalls the 84-yard punt he made in 2012 against Widener in a Division III playoff game.

He kicked the ball over the head of the Widener punt returner, who then let the ball roll to the Widener 1-yard line.

That year Hamby averaged 42.2 yards per punt as a sophomore and last season he averaged 41.1 yards per game as a junior.

In the first game of this season Hamby punted four times for an average of 42.5 yards per kick in a 41-32 win at Christopher Newport in Virginia.

Against nationally ranked Wesley of Delaware, he averaged 43.4 yards on eight kicks at home last Saturday in a 43-5 loss.

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So why isn't Hamby the punter for a Division I team like the University of Maryland, or even Division I-AA Towson?

The quick answer is because of baseball.

Hamby played both football and baseball at Good Counsel and wanted to do both at the college level.

In these days of specialization it is unusual for an athlete to play both Division I football and baseball, though James Winston of Florida State is an exception.

Doug Fleetwood, an assistant coach with the Salisbury football program, is the former baseball coach at Salisbury who saw Hamby play baseball and football at Good Counsel.

Hamby pitched for Fleetwood at Salisbury in 2012 and 2013.

"He could try walking on at Division I school (for football) and not play baseball," Wood said.

"He had the opportunity to do both sports here," said Fleetwood, the recruiting coordinator for Salisbury football. "He kind of fit into the closer's role (for baseball). He has had a great career here and could get a chance to punt on Sundays," for an NFL team.

Hamby has played three years of baseball at Salisbury and this past spring he was the closer as a junior.

He posted a record of 3-0 with nine saves and an ERA of 2.45 in 24 games for the Sea Gulls, who advanced to the Division III College World Series.

Last February, a scout for the Redskins came to Salisbury and gave Hamby some written tests and Wood said he did so well the scout came back during preseason workouts in August.

This past summer Hamby attended a camp for punters in Wisconsin, one that has attracted current and former pro punters.

Hamby plans to finish up his academic work at Salisbury during the fall semester of 2015.

But those plans could change if he beats the odds and makes the roster of an NFL team next year.

Wood points out that Baltimore native Sean Landeta, a graduate of Loch Raven High, had a long NFL career as a punter after he played at what is now Towson University in the early 1980s when the Tigers played at the Division II level.

So what does punting in football and being the closer in baseball have in common?

"They are pretty similar. You are out there for a limited time," Hamby said. "In football it is one play and in baseball it is one inning or one batter. Things can change fast. You have to come in and be ready to go."

Notes: Salisbury is off Sept. 20 and plays Sept. 27 at Buffalo State...other Laurel residents on the Salisbury roster are sophomore linebacker Zack Hess (Reservoir High), freshman defensive lineman Jalil Dukes (Laurel High) and freshman wide receiver Brenden Clinton (Laurel High)…Salisbury has made the NCAA tournament nine times in football, the last coming in 2012.

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