UNC’s Ryan Switzer against idea of abolishing kickoffs from college game

North Carolina's Ryan Switzer is one punt return for a touchdown away from tying the NCAA record.

Bob Donnan/Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

CHARLOTTE — At an event called the ACC Kickoff, it was only fitting that the topic of kickoffs — or more to the point eliminating them — came up.

And from that end, who better to ask than North Carolina return man Ryan Switzer?

"I think the game would take a big hit if that were to happen," Switzer said of the report from CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd that the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee and the American Football Coaches Association have discussed nixing the kickoff. "Football’s a dangerous game regardless of what play it is. We know as players you put yourself out there risking injury every time you step out on the field."

Granted, he’s returned just two kickoffs in his three years in Chapel Hill — one in each of the last two seasons — but the Tar Heels senior is an expert of sorts when it comes to dealing with collisions in the return game. Switzer is the conference’s career leader with seven punt returns for a touchdown, putting him one away from tying the NCAA mark of eight shared by Antonio Perks (Oklahoma) and Wes Welker (Texas Tech).

"Yeah, kickoff and kickoff return is tough ’cause guys are running full speed, but there’s also plenty of other times guys are running full speed," he said. "I’ve gotten hit across the middle, got hit catching punts where I didn’t think I was going to get up.

That’s ultimately not my call. But to see kickoffs taken out of the game, I don’t feel would be positive for the game of football."

According to Dodd’s report, Football Oversight Committee chairman Bob Bowlsby (who is also the Big 12 commissioner), said kickoffs put players at risk unlike anything else in football. "I don’t think there is any doubt it is the most dangerous play in the game," he said. "How much that’s the case and how we can fix it is unknown."

Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney and Facebook. His book, ‘Tales from the Atlanta Braves Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Braves Stories Ever Told,’ is out now, and ‘The Heisman Trophy: The Story of an American Icon and Its Winners’ will be released Nov. 1, 2016.