Josh Growden is getting one last go at college football this season. After spending four years at LSU handling their punting duties, the Australian says he is “stoked” to finish his college career in Morgantown.
Coming to WVU wasn’t always the plan for Growden. After LSU defeated UCF in the Fiesta Bowl in January, he was ready to return down under.
“So I was actually going to go back to Australia, I wasn’t going to do my fifth year at LSU,” he said. “I was just kind of wanting to go home and pursue things back there.”
It wasn’t until this summer that Growden would get the opportunity through his punting coaches, who said the Mountaineers were looking for a punter. Now, he’s the starter for West Virginia, and he says he’s excited to get some closure on his American college football career.
“To be able to be here and kind of finish out a fifth year, and have a senior night, and my parents are going to be coming over, and being the starting punter, it’s a cool way to finish out my college career,” Growden said.
Described as a “pooch punter with pinpoint accuracy” on LSU’s website, Growden was mainly used inside the 50 yard line to stick teams deep within their own territory. 12 of his 16 punts in 2018 were downed within the 20.
His skill came up big for West Virginia in the season opener, where he punted 8 times for an average of 40.4 yards in a game that was very much decided by the special teams.
“LSU valued special teams too, but Coach Brown’s emphasis on it is amazing,” Growden said. “It’s going to be our edge for a lot of games. With a turnover and a blocked field goal, it really helped us out on the weekend. I’m loving this environment.”
This year, West Virginia has several graduate transfers in their lineup, which Neal Brown says is important when you’re in “culture-building mode.” The new coach wasn’t going to just bring in anybody, but rather he had to be “choosy” about who came in.
As Growden is one of those grad transfers, that shows how important Brown feels he is to building his program.
“I kind of just try and like, do it through my actions, and show like a bit more maturity and professionalism in how I go about things,” Growden said.
While he is helping establish himself within the football program, Growden is still adjusting to his new home among the hills. While he hasn’t had a lot of time to get acquainted with Morgantown yet, he says he enjoys his new home — especially the geography.
“What I’ve seen and what I’ve been able to do is pretty cool,” he said. “I like how it’s kind of hilly and stuff. You know, a bit different to Louisiana, that’s for sure.”
Ultimately, he feels that coming to West Virginia was the right decision and he’s excited to close out his college career as a Mountaineer.
“I started speaking to a few [pro] teams back home, and they weren’t really interested. I’ve been out of the game for so long, so I was like I guess that’s fair enough,” Growden said. “I started to try and get in shape….but then I kind of got the vibes from the teams, and this opportunity popped up, I was kind of like, this kind of make sense. It’s kind of like a sign.”