Texas football lands a day-one starter in Stanford transfer P Ryan Sanborn

Ryan Sanborn (Photo by Chris Gardner/ Getty Images)
Ryan Sanborn (Photo by Chris Gardner/ Getty Images) /

The first addition by way of the NCAA Transfer Portal as part of the 2023 class arrived for Texas football on Dec. 13. Texas landed a commitment out of the portal from the former Stanford Cardinal senior punter and grad transfer Ryan Sanborn.

Sanborn announced the commitment to the Longhorns on social media on Dec. 13 just a few days after he made the trip to Austin to see Texas and special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Jeff Banks.

Banks and the Longhorns are getting an immediate starter for the special teams unit out of Sanborn. This should be a nice fix for a problem that Texas had throughout the regular season in the punting game.

Texas’ punting game wound up being one of the worst in the Big 12 during the regular season. And while it was nice to have the former Texas Wesleyan transfer Daniel Trejo step up after freshman Isaac Pearson struggled in the opener, there still wasn’t much effectiveness to speak of from the punting unit.

Trejo posted a punting grade of 61.7 during the regular season, good for second to last among Big 12 punters. That punting grade also put Trejo in the bottom quarter of Power Five punters this fall.

Texas football reels in an instant special teams starters in transfer punter Ryan Sanborn

What Sanborn will bring to the table is more consistency in the punting game and another leg if Texas needs it on kickoffs. Sanborn was a four-year starter at Stanford. And he really peaked in the last two seasons, ranking among the top two highest-graded punters in the PAC-12 each year.

He isn’t going to blow anyone away with the box score punting stats. He ranked in the bottom half of the PAC-12 in each of the last four seasons in yards per punt.

But yards per punt don’t tell the whole story when you look at the value that Sanborn will bring to the Texas special teams unit.

Sanborn also led the PAC-12 in punting grade during the regular season, largely thanks to the accuracy by which he got punts off. He was the only punter in the Power Five during the regular season to have at least 20 punts downed inside the 20-yard line without having any go into the end zone for a touchback.

He is also one of just a handful of Power Five punters to accomplish that feat in the last two seasons.

Sanborn is also a very technical punter that knows exactly where to put the ball each time. The fact that he didn’t have a single touchback last season on more than 50 punts is extremely impressive.

Another example of how technical he is with his punts has to do with how he places the ball. Sanborn puts just the right amount of air under his punts to ensure that he gives the coverage team a chance to bring the return man down without picking up much yardage.

Sanborn’s ability to place the ball well while allowing the coverage team to seamlessly do its job is put on full display when you look at the difference between yards per punt and net yards per punt.

During the regular season, Sanborn averaged 41.7 yards per punt and a net of 39.0 yards. That is a slim margin in terms of the difference between total and net yards per punt considering that Sanborn had more than 38 percent of his attempts returned this season.

Sanborn was the highest-graded punter and had the third-fewest return yards per punt among those the Power Five punters that had at least 38 percent of their attempts returned.

It takes a punter really being in sync with their coverage team and a high level of technical skill to be able to get so many punts off that are returned without allowing big plays in the process. And that’s exactly what Sanborn was able to pull off at Stanford.

Moreover, Texas was down in the punting game this season after senior kicker/punter Cameron Dicker was efficient with this unit last year. Sanborn should be able to get the punting game back up to snuff for Banks and the Longhorns next season.

It’s good for Banks and the Longhorns to get the special teams unit right with what could wind up being the most proven and technically sound punter to enter the transfer portal ahead of the 2023 offseason.

And despite special teams being a strength for the Longhorns throughout much of the regular season, the punting unit was the weakest link.

Next. 3 freshmen stepping up early in bowl practice. dark

Sanborn is the first of what will likely be around eight or 10 portal additions for the Longhorns as part of the 2023 class. He will join redshirt freshman kicker Bert Auburn to lead one of the more formidable special teams units in the Big 12 next season.