Likely the most underrated aspects of MAC football is its punters. This could be because of the disgraceful performance by many of the place kickers in 2014.
We'll start with Melchiori's "bad" side. During his sophomore season in 2013, Melchiori took over place kicking duties for the Flashes. To put it simply, that was a bad idea. Since taking over kicking duties, he has made just 19 on 32 attempts for a percentage of about 59%. He's not a kicker.
Now that we have that out of the way, we'll take a look at how he got onto this list of 70 great MAC football players.
According to Sports-reference.com, Melchiori has been consistent in his time at Kent, As a freshman, he punted 72 times for an average of 42.6 yards per punt. That year, he finished tenth in the NCAA in punting yardage with a total of 3065 yards. As a sophomore in 2013, he bumped his average up to 44.5 yards per punt, except that was only in nine games with about half as many punts as the year before.
The best sample that we've gotten from Melchiori was in his junior year (2014), when Kent State had its worst year since he was there. When you have one of the worst offenses in the nation, the punter becomes even more important than it already is. The Flashes were nearly dead last in the country in rushing offense (125th, 81.8 YPG) and scoring offense (16.4 PPG). In all 11 Kent State games (Their game at Buffalo was cancelled), Melchiori averaged 44.3 yards per punt.
If you take a look at NCAA.com's net punting stats, you'll find that seven MAC teams finished in the top 50 in 2014. Kent State finished second in the MAC and sixteenth in the nation behind Northern Illinois, who was fifteenth in the nation.
Net punting is basically punting yardage with the opponent's return yardage subtracted. Of course, Melchiori isn't the one normally running down the field to make tackles, but Kent State being one of the top teams in this aspect of the game is thanks to their punter. In 2014, Kent State netted 40.01 yards per punt. If you subtract that from the 44.3 yards per punt, you get an average return of about 4 yards, which is pretty good.
Kent State fans didn't have much to be excited about in 2014, but they do have some things to look forward to in 2015. Anthony Melchiori, believe it or not, is something to be excited about. He's been punting like a veteran in his entire career and he still has one year to go.
Stay tuned every day at 10 A.M. until that first night of MAC football on September 3 for the rest of our Top 70 MAC Football Player Countdown.