‘It’s all about character’: Former punter Devin Anctil talks about his career at K-State

Former punter Devin Anctil punts the ball away in the Wildcats 31-12 loss to Baylor last season. (File photo by Dalton Wainscott | Collegian Media Group)

Devin Anctil, former Second Team All-Big 12 punter for Kansas State, is one year removed from playing for the football team and graduating from K-State. Even after graduating, Anctil keeps up to date with everything going on in this doozy of a season.

Over the course of his career, Anctil finished sixth in school history in total punts (83), fifth in school history in total yards per punt (3,718), and second in school history in average yards per punt (44.8). Anctil could be considered one of the better statistical punters in K-State history.

“I think that’s pretty cool,” Anctil said. “I learned from Nick Walsh when I first got there so that was pretty cool that he took me under his wing. It’s also just really cool, and an honor to be up there that high. I never thought I’d be up there that’s for sure.”

Anctil hadn’t always planned to play for the Wildcats growing up. As a matter of fact, Anctil grew up rooting for K-State’s rival — the Kansas Jayhawks.

Like many other current Wildcats, Anctil was under-looked in the recruitment process and ended up coming to K-State because of the university’s stellar recruitment team.

“I think it starts with Taylor Braet,” Anctil said. “He actually likes to recruit Kansas kids over any other kid in a different part of the country. He grew up a Kansas kid and I think that’s just what some of the other programs across the country don’t see is that they just don’t recruit in-state.”

Anctil was in a very interesting situation, playing during the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one as former head coach Bill Snyder retired and was replaced by current head coach Chris Klieman prior to Anctil’s senior season.

“Coach Snyder, he was a great coach,” Anctil said. “One of the greatest coaches of all time. One difference between Snyder and Klieman is that Bill kind of went by the book and said, ‘You are going to do this my way without a lot of freedom.’ Klieman came in then and said, ‘I want to give you more freedom than what you had in the past.’ He was definitely more of a players coach who could relate to you no matter what.”

Anctil redshirted his freshman year in 2016 and saw the bulk of his playing time during his junior and senior years after sitting behind and being mentored by Walsh.

“Definitely my favorite moment during my career was when we beat Oklahoma,” Anctil said. “Everyone in the stadium rushed the field, myself and three other teammates went up into the stands to find our families and that was just one of the coolest games I’ve ever been a part of.”

The Wildcats sit at 4-5 going into their final game of the regular season against Texas on Saturday and risk having their worst regular-season finish since 2004. With the Wildcats currently on a four-game losing streak, Anctil is optimistic the team will turn things around in the future.

“It starts with everyone buying in,” Anctil said. “It just starts with everyone from the top down and being bought into the program. When everyone starts to get bought in, that’s when change starts to happen.

Anctil is not alone atop the statistical leaderboards in K-State history, it’s the effort from the rest of the special team’s crew that helped him get there.

Over the course of the past few seasons and the 2020 season, the K-State fanbase dubbed their team as “Special-Teams U,” highlighting the fact the Wildcats have one of the top special teams units in all of the country over the past decade.

One player in particular on the special teams unit acted as a cornerstone for the team in the last few years. Blake Lynch, entering his senior season in 2020, is statistically one of the best kickers in K-State history.

“Blake Lynch is the real deal,” Anctil said. “He’s 5-foot-5 and weighs 150 pounds and can kick a ball 70 yards through the uprights — it’s insane. You wouldn’t think that someone that small would be able to kick the ball that far and it’s just crazy how he’s able to use all that power in his body.”

Lynch made 44 of his 52 field goal attempts, giving him an 84 percent success rate when kicking field goals, putting him second all-time in K-State history behind Matthew McCrane. Lynch also sits fourth in school history with field goals made with 44.

“It’s all about character,” Anctil said. “This will be his sixth year here after he grey-shirted then red-shirted and after his red-shirt year, he decided to get a job in the complex as a janitor. That’s just how he is, he just wants to work all the time. He would kick in the morning, do his workouts, do schoolwork, then come back to the complex and go work as a janitor and after that, I’d come up there and hold field goals for him.”

While Lynch is not your typical NFL type player, mainly due to his size, Anctil really believes that Lynch could play in the NFL.

“He definitely wants to play at the next level and in my opinion, he’s one of the best kickers in the nation, at least top three,” Anctil said. “He has the leg, he has the accuracy, he can do kickoffs and has some crazy onside kicks. He may not have the size, but he has the physicality and the work ethic to get it done for any NFL team out there. He really is the real deal.”

It isn’t all serious off the field though, as Anctil said Lynch loves to spend time with his family doing some pretty interesting things.

“He loves riding dirt bikes with his dad and sister,” Anctil said. “They go to this place called ‘The Dunes’. I don’t even know where the dunes are at — I think they’re down in southwest Kansas — and he just loves shredding gnar.”

Lynch suits up for what could be his final game at K-State against Texas on Saturday.