the study of the kicking components within sports

Thursday, August 22, 2013

UMass Minutemen 2013 Specialists

Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the UMass Minutemen.

Kicker: Blake Lucas, sophomore (Cochran, GA / Bleckley HS)
2012:  Made 7-of-8 field goals with a long of 39 yards and converted 8-of-9 PATs for a total of 29 points ... Was perfect in his final seven field goal attempts and eight extra points
"This off season I have been working on mainly strength and flexibility. I've been working with coach Steve Wolf a lot this summer focusing on consistency and repeating the same motion over and over. I have high hopes for this season, hoping to have more opportunities to kick since last year I was only 7/8. I am looking to break some school records and perform well in some big time games this upcoming season."
Kicker/punter: Brendon Levengood, senior (Lebanon, PA / Cedar Crest HS)
2012: Made 3-of-5 field goals with a long of 32 and connected on 6-of-7 PATs for a total of 15 points ... Booted 39 kickoffs for an average of 60.7 yards and 10 touchbacks
"I spent this summer up here at school training with the team. We did a ton of lifting and running which really helped increase my leg strength. I spent a lot of time working on field goal accuracy and placement on my kickoffs. My goal this season is to be one of the best kickoff guys in the country again, which helped our team have the best kickoff coverage in our conference, and also the country."
Punter/kicker: Colter Johnson, senior (Warren, PA / warren Area HS / Alfred State)
Johnson was named to the Ray Guy Award Preseason Watch List. After averaging 43.6 yards per punt last season to lead the MAC, Johnson was one of three UMass players to earn All-MAC honors being picked to the third team. He finished his first campaign at UMass with 66 punts for 2,880 yards with 19 punts going 50-or-more yards. He showed his ability to put opposing offenses in tough situations by dropping 16 punts inside the Red Zone. Johnson began his collegiate career at Alfred State (N.Y.) where he handled punting and place kicking duties. He was one of the top special team's players in the NJCAA in his two years with the Pioneers.
"My off season actually consisted of resting my leg due to the fact that I had a herniated disc in my lower back so I took off the spring ball practices rehabbing and working on core strengthening and flexibility to help heal my back and get my strength back for the up coming fall season. Continuing all that into the summer and being able to go back home to work on my family farm I am back to 100% and punting well now at camp.
My goals for this year are to increase my gross avg (last year was 43.6), become more consistent with my drops and really working on placement of the ball- whether its for directional punts or for pooch punts. But mainly to improve on my hang time resulting in a better net avg. I will still have the same snapper from last year and we have been clicking at practice so I know that will be positive going into season and also have great competition during practice with the returning punters and newly brought in freshmen to the team so we all are getting good quality reps."
Punter: Jeff Strait, senior (Manheim, PA / Manheim Central HS)
2012: Attempted nine punts on the season for 378 yards (42.0 yards per kick) ... All punts occurred during the season-opening game at Connecticut
"This offseason I focused on getting stronger and faster, really wanted to improve my explosiveness and leg speed. As far as punting goes, I've been working on improving my ball foot contact and drop consistency. For the season, I hope to continue to compete for the starting position and hold well on all field goals."
Long snapper: Vance Barton, senior (Albany, NY / Burr and Burton Academy)
2012: Played in 10 games on special teams ... Recorded one assisted tackle, doing so at Western Michigan
"Colter's getting a lot of attention because he's a great punter (and) Blake is a very, very automatic kicker. And I've just been doing my job to make their jobs really easy by throwing Colter really good snaps and giving our holders a good snap. We've been really consistent, we've worked really hard and we're extremely dedicated. And I think we may be one of the top specialist units in the nation....

It's always been an aspiration for me to play in the NFL. So, obviously, first and foremost is this season and coming out and performing my best this season, because this is gonna be the season that'll determine that. But, definitely, my future is looking towards, hopefully, making a team and snapping and making a career out of it."

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