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Article updated: 5/19/2012 8:21 PM
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Lakes' Blain goes three and out — to Kentucky
 

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Lakes' Blain goes three and out — to Kentucky
  • Lakes punter Tanner Blain is hoping to earn a spot on Kentucky's roster.

    Purchase Photo | Lakes punter Tanner Blain is hoping to earn a spot on Kentucky's roster. George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

 

The University of Kentucky football roster lists two punters and no player who claims jersey No. 3.

Both should get Tanner Blain, whose favorite number is 3 and whose favorite football activity is punting, excited.

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Twitter people can follow Blain at "@TannerBlain3," and his fans -- he's hoping -- can follow him on Kentucky's football squad in the fall, as well.

After a high school career in which he played three varsity seasons in both basketball and football, Blain, who graduates from Lakes today, is passing up an opportunity to punt for Division III national champion University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Instead, he'll try to make Kentucky's football squad as a walk-on punter.

He's been punting a football since fourth grade.

"My whole life I've always wanted to go Division I," Blain said. "I wanted to go to the biggest league that I could. Going to Kentucky, SEC football, there really is nothing better in my opinion."

If he makes the Wildcats' roster and wins a potential numbers game, he's sure to ask about the availability of jersey No. 3.

"That's been my number all four years in high school, in both sports," Blain said. "My freshman year of football, that was one of the smaller jerseys. I was like, 'Maybe that will look good.' So I picked that and I just fell in love with the number."

The small jersey is the 6-foot-2, 185-pound, floppy-haired Blain's way of showing off his athletic physique.

"If that's what you'd like to say," Blain said, "then sure."

Finding his way to Kentucky was no sure bet. The school didn't enter into the picture for him until his senior year.

"At the beginning of this year I was always getting letters from them, not for sports, just for school," Blain said. "I always thought it would be cool to go there. And then seeing them do great in basketball and seeing all the fans, it just seemed like a great place to go to. I have neighbors that went and visited, and they said they loved it."

Blain applied and was accepted. Now, he's all about UK. Yes, he was rooting for the men's basketball team when it won the national championship.

"I'm just excited because I sent the coach (special teams coordinator Greg Nord) my film and he said he liked it," Blain said. "I passed that test so now I've got to go walk on. There's another kid from Tennessee in my grade that's also going there. It'll probably be between us for the job, hopefully."

Blain plans to visit Kentucky next month. It will be the first time he steps on campus. He finished up school last Wednesday.

"I'm getting ready for lifting and bike-riding every day," Blain. "It's good."

Blain kicked 7 field goals and averaged 40.9 yards per punt as a senior, while also starting at cornerback for a Lakes team that advanced to the Class 6A state quarterfinals. The versatile athlete also played wide receiver his junior year.

A starting guard in basketball, No. 3 hit plenty of 3-pointers.

He has no intentions, however, of trying to walk on the men's basketball team. Never mind that several members of the Wildcats' fabulous freshman class could be declaring for the NBA Draft.

"No, no, not all," Blain said. "I'm just going to be a big fan for them."

The starting punter position at Kentucky is available after Ryan Tydlacka graduated. One of the SEC's top punters last season, Tydlacka signed as a non-drafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles.

"It's open," Blain said of the punting job. "That's one of the biggest (factors) why I went there."

On Twitter, Kentucky fans are aflutter about Blain. Well, at least they're interested in the kid from Illinois who's coming to their university.

"On my Twitter, all the Kentucky fans started following me and now they're all saying, 'I can't wait to see you' and that all," Blain said. "It's just pretty cool."

It's a kick.

jaguilar@dailyherald.com

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