Retired Ravens Punter Sam Koch Aiming To Make Jordan Stout ‘Best Punter In The League’

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The call came, and Ravens punter Sam Koch knew exactly what that meant.

“I knew this time was going to come to an end,” said Koch, recalling his thoughts when general manager Eric DeCosta informed him that the Ravens would possibly be selecting a punter in this year’s draft.

“I remember saying to them, I was like, ‘Look, this is a business decision, and this is your business,” Koch said. “You guys have to do what you think is best for the Ravens. So they made their decision, and at that point, I think I knew. My time was over, and it’s OK. I am very excited for the next chapter in life.”

Indeed, the Ravens selected Penn State punter Jordan Stout in the fourth round of this year’s draft, which led to the scene at the team’s Under Armour Performance Center on May 19 as Koch tearfully announced his retirement after 256 regular-season games with the Ravens, the most in franchise history.

A 16-year veteran and the only member of the team whose tenure dates to former coach Brian Billick, Koch bid farewell to his NFL career flanked by head coach John Harbaugh and DeCosta in the team’s auditorium that was filled with family, friends, current and former teammates and coaches going back 20 years to his time at the University of Nebraska.

It was immediately evident how much respect the organization has for Koch, and vice versa.

DeCosta called Koch, a sixth-round draft pick out of Nebraska in 2006, one of the best draft picks in franchise history and “one of the very best Ravens you’ll ever see.”

Through the tears and the sighs, Koch said, “I am very grateful that [the Ravens] took a chance on this unknown punter from the University of Nebraska. … I am very fortunate to have played 16 years here in Baltimore. Everything this organization does is first class, in every manner.”

Koch grew especially emotional when discussing his family and “The Wolfpack,” the specialist trio of himself, long snapper Morgan Cox and record-setting kicker Justin Tucker, who worked together for nine seasons. Cox left as a free agent last season but returned for the retirement news conference, joining Tucker and roughly 10 other current Ravens.

Koch won’t be leaving any time soon; the team announced that Koch will stay on as a special teams consultant — though Koch said he hopes to have more time to go fishing with former special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg.

Koch also said he looks forward to working with Stout, whom DeCosta has said reminds him a lot of a young Koch. DeCosta selected Stout at No. 130 overall, the first punter taken in this year’s draft.

Stout also will take over as the holder on kicks, and he succeeds a player that Rosburg has called “the greatest holder in the history of football.”

Stout, in fact, spent his entire Penn State Pro Day working as a holder for scouts, figuring enough of his punting was on film. Ravens scouts obviously liked what they saw, and now it will be up to Koch to teach Stout the finer points of what Tucker calls “the operation.”

With Koch staying involved, Stout can learn from a former Pro Bowl player who has revolutionized punting, according to both Harbaugh and Rosburg.

“Sam Koch changed punting,” Harbaugh said. “A lot of people don’t know it, but all the punters know it, and all the punting coaches know it, and all the people who study the game know it.”

Working with Rosburg and special teams coach Randy Brown, Koch began experimenting with rugby-style punts and putting different spins on the ball, one of which has become known as the “Koch Hook.”

“You watch punters now in the draft … they’re using the ‘Koch Hook’ and all these other Sam Koch punts,” Harbaugh added. “When you change something forever, that’s kind of a revolutionary-type thing, and that’s the mark of greatness right there.”

Saying he was “at peace with my decision,” Koch said he looks forward to working with Stout.

“We are going to try to … do everything we can to make him the best punter in the league,” Koch said. “I’m just going to try to teach him everything I have and put everything I have into making him the best punter this league has seen.”

Stout, speaking on Glenn Clark Radio recently, said he relishes the chance to learn from “one of the best to ever do it.”

“That’s going to be so surreal,” Stout said. “He’s a phenomenal punter. … I can’t imagine how much knowledge he’s accumulated through the past 17 years. So to be in a room with him and pick his brain a little bit is going to be unbelievable.”

After Koch’s retirement was announced, Stout took to Twitter to offer “huge congratulations” to Koch on a “legendary career.”

This transition from Koch to Stout hasn’t been easy on DeCosta, who fought his emotions at the news conference and said the move “created a lot of anxiety in me.”

“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “You agonize over it, just like we have with other players. But this is a special one.”

DeCosta added that keeping Koch involved “brings me a lot of joy. … I can’t think of somebody better to represent the club in any way and in any capacity. Just having him here is a big win for the club, for the city and for our players.”

Photo Credits: Kenya Allen/PressBox, Courtesy of Penn State Athletics

Bo Smolka

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