Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the Oregon Ducks.
8/31/13 kicking update:
The competition to be Oregon's full-time place-kicker continues after the Ducks' 66-3 victory. Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said 'it was good to get off the schneid' by making – a field goal, but didn't indicate the job has been won by senior Alejandro Maldonado, Saturday's starter, quite yet. He made the only field goal UO attempted from 29 yards in the first quarter to end a stalled drive that went four yards in five plays and give Oregon a 24-0 lead.'Alejandro has been practicing well all fall,' said Helfrich, who added it was the plan to alternate Maldonado and true freshman Matt Wogan on point-after attempts. 'It'll be an ongoing competition from here'."8/19/13 punting update:
"Oregon knows exactly where its next punter lives. It just doesn’t know which occupant will be handling their fourth-down kicks. Roommates Dylan Ausherman and Alejandro Maldonado were notified last week by special teams coach Tom Osborne that they were the finalists in the team’s four-man punting competition, and Osborne said he hopes to name a starter shortly after Thursday’s scrimmage. Both are battling to replace Jackson Rice, last year’s second-team All-Pac 12 punter who averaged 40.0 yards on 51 punts. Osborne said the punter who exhibits the most consistency will win the job. In the first two weeks of camp, Ausherman has had the longer and higher kicks and Maldonado the better placement. But neither has been consistent. 'They both will have a really good punt, with really good placement, good hang time, then maybe another one, but then they will have one that is really bad,' Osborne said. 'So as with anything, we are looking for consistency'."8/17/13 kicking update:
"Whether Maldonado will still be kicking on Saturdays for the Ducks is still in question. Incoming freshman Matt Wogan is engaged in a battle that special teams coach Tom Osborne says is too close to call. Wogan - who last year kicked a 58-yard field goal in the semifinals of the North Carolina Class 4A football playoffs - had nailed several 50-plus kicks in practices this month in Eugene. But he has also missed several short-range kicks, including a 37-yarder in Saturday’s workout. Meanwhile, Maldonado, who held the job off and on for the past two seasons, has been at the top of his game. 'Alejandro is hitting the ball better than he ever has here.... Alejandro is much better than he used to be,’ Osborne said. 'But he still doesn’t have a huge leg to hit big long ones. And Matt will kill one, then miss a shorter one because he looked up too soon, or kicking off the ground is different than off the tee.’...Kicker/punter: Alejandro Maldonado, senior (Colton, CA / Colton HS)
'If we finished it today, and went by who has made the highest percentage, Alejandro has a higher percentage,’ Osborne said. 'But if you are talking percentage over 45 yards, that’s not the case. Matt can hit those longer ones, I mean, Matt can drill it. But he might not hit the next one cleanly.’ It might set up a scenario where the kickers platoon, with Wogan attempting long kicks and Maldonado handling the mid-range attempts. Coach Mark Helfrich said he has not eliminated the idea of alternating kickers depending on the length of the kick, and said he doesn’t have a preference to narrow the kicking duties to one person. 'My preference is the guy to make the field goal,’ Helfrich said."
Competing with Ausherman and Wogan for the kicking and punting jobs.
2012: Had a career-high ten attempts for 607 yards, averaging 60.7 yards per attempt in victory over Tennessee Tech
2011: Took over place kicking duties in the second game of the season after an injury sidelined Rob Beard … Connected on 7 of 12 field goal attempts and 77 of 78 PATs … Third on the team in scoring with 100 points … Averaged 64.4 yards on 56 kickoffs
“I’ve been working on my confidence, telling myself I’m going to have a good season. I’m confident that I am. I’ve been doing it for so long ... it’s not easy to say it, but it’s second nature. ... I really want to make an impact for the team and for myself. I know what I’m capable of. I just have to relax. I’ve been doing some reading about mental approach. It’s given me an edge, it’s good for me.”Kicker/punter: Dylan Ausherman, junior (Visalia, CA / College of the Sequoias / El Diamante HS)
Spent two years at College of the Sequoias ... Punted 67 times over 10 games in 2011 ... Had six punts of 50-plus yards and dropped eight inside the 20-yard line against only one touchback
"[last year] Obviously when you've got someone like Jackson Rice in front of you, an All-American candidate, you just try to take what you can and learn from him and try to apply it to yourself, but at the same time you have to stay true to what you know how to do.... [this year] I feel like even the balls I hit that aren't great are still good enough as opposed to last year when I was hitting a bad ball it just wasn't good at all.... I can generate the same power behind the ball [as Rice] but the way the ball comes off the foot is just a little different."
Kicker/punter: Matt Wogan, freshman (Indian Trail, NC / Porter Ridge HS)"I've never been more excited going into a camp. It feels great to have a true shot at getting to play. I don’t want to say I am more focused than last year, but I am more engaged in every single rep. Every rep I take could determine whether or not I get this job.... [Drew Howell and I] are working almost every day, and even if I can’t kick every day, I am going through the snap, catch, hold, drop, things like that. A lot of fundamental work to try and improve my consistency."
High school: USA Today and Parade first-team All-American . . . The versatile four-year starter doubled as a tight end and wide receiver . . . The dual-threat kicker was a three-time all-state honoree as both a punter and placekicker, averaging 43.6-yards-per-punt while connecting on 11 of 16 field goals his senior year . . . More impressive was an explosive leg that accounted for a long punt of 72 yards while placing 19 kicks inside the 20-yard line, and drove 85 of 95 kickoffs into the end zone . . . Also connected on five field goals of 51 yards or longer, including a Union Country-record 58-yard three-pointer
"My goal is to do all three. I think if you don't have that kind of a goal set then you're setting your standard low and underachieving."Kicker: Eric Solis, junior (Panorama, CA / Notre Dame HS)
2010: Filled in for Rob Beard in the season opener vs. New Mexico and delivered what turned out to be a Pac-10 season-high for kickers with 18 points on 3-for-4 FG attempts and nine PATsKicker: Hayden Crook, freshman (Bend, OR / Bend HS)
High school: named first team all state kicker... Also played point guard for school's basketball team for three years... Played midfielder for school's soccer team for two seasons.Punter: Ian Wheeler, freshman (Mt. Airy, GA / Habersham Central HS)
Ranked as one of the Top 12 punters in the 2013 class. He was also named the GA Nike Summer Camp Punt Champion & the Junior Rank Prodigy Camp Semper Fi All-American Bowl Punt ChampionLong snapper: Drew Howell, senior (Tehachapi, CA / Tehachapi HS)
Returning starter from the past three seasons.
"Drew, who was named to the Phil Steele College Football Preview 2013 Preseason All-American team as a long snapper. 'It was great to get the pre-season honor and we are excited for the year coming up,' said Drew Howell. 'When I'm here on campus and playing in the games it seems normal; but when I go home you realize it is a big deal and it is an honor to be a part of a program like Oregon'."