Just one week ago the Stallions signed former Pittsburgh Mauler’s kicker Ramiz Ahmed who would go on to convert a 61-yard field goal and find himself in the NFL for a season afterward. During Ahmed’s first week with the team he would watch from the sidelines as punter Colby Wadman went down with a left ankle injury. Wadman would finish the game but has not practiced since, now it appears the injury will cause an extended absence.

Replacing both of your kickers by week 5 in the UFL is less than ideal, especially for a team that arguably had the best special teams unit in the USFL for two seasons. After the 2023 season, they watched as Brandon Aubrey, Colby Wadman, and Deon Cain (the primary kick returner) all signed with NFL teams. Wadman and Cain returned, but Aubrey has cemented himself as an NFL kicker going forward.

Chasing Perfection In Spite of Injuries

The Stallions have continued to chase perfection on special teams even though injuries have made it difficult, it has not been impossible. In week four following the injury to Chris Blewitt, the Stallions brought in the aforementioned Ahmed, who proceeded to go 4 of 4 on field goals. He produced 12 of 20 points the Stallions scored in a 2-point victory. One miss and Ahmed would have been blamed for the Stallions’ first loss.

Now the Stallions will hope they can get a similar output from Drue Chrisman who takes over as the punter after being signed on Tuesday. In a corresponding move, the Stallions placed CB Chris Jackson on injured reserve. Chris Blewitt was also placed on injured reserve meaning he will be out until at least week 9.

Chrisman to his credit was in the NFL for the better part of two seasons in 2021, and 2022. Most of his time came with the Cincinnati Bengals, but he also had a cup of coffee with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Most of his time in the NFL came on practice squads, until week 11 of 2022 when the Bengals released Kevin Huber mid-season.

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Chrisman Gets the Call

While Chrisman was born in Indiana, he played his high school and college ball in Ohio before signing with his home team in 2021. Chrisman is so engrained in Ohio State, and vice versa, he actually proposed to his fiance at halftime in a spring game for the team.

Signed as an undrafted free agent, the Bengals promised Chrisman nothing but a chance, and he still managed to find his way onto the field in 2022. After about a season on the practice squad total, Chrisman was called up.

Graduating as one of the most accomplished punters in Ohio State history, his list of awards and accolades is about a mile long. Playing in 49 games for the school spread across four seasons, he booted 185 punts for Ohio State including a long of 74 yards his senior season. He was also able to pin 83 punts within the opponents’ 20-yard line, had 15 touchbacks, 55 punts sailed over 50 yards, and he produced 70 fair catches indicating hang-time is of no concern for Chrisman. This performance in college created an environment where he was expected to perform admirably immediately once given his chance.

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NFL Opportunity Given, but only for a Moment

With Kevin Huber released to pave the way for Chrisman, the Bengals were putting all their faith in a player who had yet to punt in a regular season game. In week 11 he was allowed to start, and he managed to put on a show from his punter position. Given just three chances on the day, Chrisman would manage a 65-yard punt long for his brief NFL Stint.

He would go on to start every game the remainder of the way. During this 7 game stretch Chrisman managed just one game with an average of 40 yards per punt or less, and it came in a game in which he punted once. In fact he had three games where he averaged over 50 yards per punt. He would also add two more 60+ yard kicks in the remaining 6 games. His net average dipped below 40 just twice all season.

Chrisman would help his team all the way to a Super Bowl appearance against the Kansas City Chiefs, but fell just 4 points shy of victory in the big game. During his postseason stretch he played well but his performance in the Super Bowl left something to be desired. He punted 9 times for a total of 420 yards. In the Super Bowl he punted 4 times, with 3 being returned for an average of 13.6 yards per return. This created short fields for the Chiefs’ offense and eventually led to the Bengals spending a 6th-round pick on punter in the following draft.

That 6th-round pick, Brad Robbins would make Chrisman an afterthought during a training camp competition. Eventually prompting the Bengals to release the punter that helped them to a Super Bowl appearance. Now Chrisman signs with the undefeated Stallions who are looking to make their third trip to the title. Chrisman will get the next 6-8 weeks to prove he belongs in the professional ranks, and potentially even get a chance to show he can shine when the lights are at their brightest.

Punting in a championship game and proving the pressure doesn’t phase him as a professional could be exactly what he needs to find his way back into the NFL and locked into a roster going forward. Whether or not he can do that in such a short window, or if he can even stave off a return by Wadman remains to be seen.

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Sam Just

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