MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Barring a major unforeseen circumstance, Preston Fox will never be called on to punt for West Virginia. The Morgantown native’s talents on special teams will instead be used in the return game.

Even though he won’t be asked to kick the pigskin, Fox is becoming instrumental in West Virginia’s punting game.

“I have a good relationship with Preston Fox, the punt returner. When he finds something that was hard to catch, I try and replicate that as much as I can,” said Straw.

Straw is in his second year as WVU’s punter. The Australian continues to get more comfortable with the American game of football.

His versatility is evident. Straw can roll out to his left or right and get off a punt successfully. He is also adept at changing the flight path of the ball he is about to boot down the field. Like a good pitcher on the diamond, he can make the ball spiral, go end-of-end, knuckle and even wobble when necessary.

“It’s just a lot of repetition of hitting the ball at a different angle or seeing what it’ll do if I hit it a different way,” added Straw.

One of Straw’s favorite facets of punting is making the football difficult to catch for the player on the receiving end.

In the build-up to this season, Fox has been one of Straw’s main targets. The Morgantown native has the fortune of being one of Straw’s guinea pigs, staring up into the sky with the possibility of the football doing something he’s never seen before.

“When I talk to Preston, I try to ask him what he finds hard, and I try to replicate that as much as I can when I’m working with the other specialists,” said Straw.

Trackman technology has also aided in Straw’s development as a punter. He and the other specialists use it to analyze the spin of the ball, drop angles, and other data points that can help give them an edge.

As important as the technology can be, personal feedback from Fox and experimentation on the part of Straw, is equally as valuable.

“The knuckleball, floaters, things like that, keeping the ball low, and just punching it out there is something that I find returners struggle with,” said Straw. “Punching it out there, and keeping it low, and giving them all types of ball flight is something that I’ve found to be successful.”