the study of the kicking components within sports

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Utah State Aggies 2013 Specialists

Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the Utah State Aggies.

Special teams coordinator Dave Ungerer:
“We’ve got a really good competition at kicker between Diaz and Thompson. I feel really good about Diaz and Josh. They’re both having a good camp and they’re both game-tested. They’ve been in games and that’s a big help.”
“Nate Needham is a top snapper and it lets me sleep at night knowing he’s our snapper. And even our backup snapper, Mark Hutchinson, is an excellent backup guy, but Nate is real special. I’d say he’s one of the better snappers in our conference, maybe in the country. He can really zing it back there with great consistency and accuracy.”
Kicker: Nick Diaz, junior (Redondo Beach, CA / Redondo Union HS)
Diaz was been named to the 2013 Lou Groza College Placekicker Award Preseason Watch List. He served as Utah State's placekicker the final seven games of the 2012 season and made 10-of-13 (.769) fields goals to rank eighth all-time at USU for a single-season in percentage. He also made all 40 of his extra points to rank tied for first all-time in school history for a single season as his 40 extra points made ranks second all-time at USU for a single-season, while his 40 attempts ranks third. Diaz also made a career-long field goal of 53 yards during the 2012 season, which ranks eighth all-time in school history.
"When kicker Nick Diaz runs on the field, the other sideline starts hooting and hollering at him. He hears the defensive coordinator yell 'Block party!' He has to shut it out of his mind while preparing himself for his play, just a few split seconds that could make or break the game. And that’s just in practice. '[Coach Matt Wells] really emphasizes getting a mental edge, so it doesn’t matter if it’s a practice or a game,' Diaz said. 'Try to create the same scenario every single time in your mind. So when you do go out there, there’s no surprises. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or windy or whatever, it’s the same scenario every time'."
Kicker: Josh Thompson, senior (Logan, UT / Logan HS)
2012: Played in eight games... Was 4-of-6 (.667) on field goals and 11-for-12 (.917) on extra points

2011: Played in all 13 games as main field goal and extra points kicker, setting Utah State records for single-season extra points made (57) and attempted (58), as well as ranking fifth for single-season extra points percentage (.983)
Kicker: Jake Thompson, freshman (Logan, UT / Logan HS)
High school: Played in three games as a prep senior and was 2-of-2 on field goals with a long of 49 yards and 7-of-9 on extra points... Punted seven times for an average of 38.29 yards with a long of 53 yards... Also had four catches for 51 yards and one touchdown... A 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl Nominee and USA U-19 Team Nominee... Earned first-team all-state and first-team all-region honors during his junior year ... Was 10-of-12 on field goals as a junior with a career long of 51 yards as he was also named to the all-Valley team... During his four-year prep career, he never missed a field goal inside of 40 yards
"Ungerer has also been impressed by Jake Thompson, who is coming off a knee injury suffered during his senior season at Logan High in 2012. 'Jake is really coming along,' Ungerer said. 'Jake’s got a really strong leg and we’re working him into the rotation right now. Not as much as the older guys, but he’s getting his chance to show what he can do'.”
Punter/kicker: Jaron Bentrude, junior (Draper, UT / Juan Diego HS)
Will serve as the team's holder for the third-straight season and punter, following the graduation of Tyler Bennett, for the first season.

2012:  Played in all 13 games... Kicked off 71 times, averaging 63.1 yards, including 26 touchbacks... Also punted twice for an average of 29.0 yards with a long of 39 yards with one touchback
"Ungerer has been working with Bentrude on the rugby-style punt. 'We’re experimenting with it and just taking a look at what he can do with that, trying to throw it in there as a changeup,' Ungerer said."
Long snapper: Nate Needham, junior ( St. George, UT / Pine View HS)
Is the captain and leader of the specialists... Originally recruited as a linebacker, shifted to long snapping duties during redshirt season... Served as the team's long snapper in all 13 games last year... Finished the season with five special teams tackles (2-solo, 3-assists)
Long sapper: Mark Hutchinson, sophomore (Corona, CA / Corona Santiago HS)
Back-up snapper who was redshirted as a freshman in 2011.

High school: three-year letterwinner as both linebacker and long snapper... Posted 30 total tackles (10-solo, 20-assists) with one sack along with one forced fumble as a senior... Earned special teams MVP award.

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