the study of all things kicker related

Friday, August 30, 2013

North Carolina Tar Heels 2013 Specialists


Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the North Carolina Tar Heels.

8/30/13 long snapping update:
"Mack Lloyd will miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury he sustained Thursday night in the Tar Heels' 27-10 loss to No. 6 South Carolina. Lloyd won the starting long snapper job this fall after overcoming a torn ACL in 2012. The fifth-year senior walked-on to UNC in 2009 and was recently awarded a scholarship by coach Larry Fedora. Sophomore Conor Fry will assume the deep snapping duties for the Tar Heels in Lloyd's place."
Kicker: Thomas Moore, junior (Chapel Hill, NC / East Chapel Hill HS)
Veteran kicker who will enter the fall as the starter after backing up Casey Barth in 2011 and 2012 • Joined the team as a walk on prior to the 2010 season • Became the team’s starter in 2011 after Barth went down with a groin injury in the third game of the year vs. Virginia Appeared in four games last year and took over full-time kicking duties after Barth was lost for the season during the Georgia Tech game • Made 2 of 3 field goal attempts and was perfect in 12 extra point tries
White v. Blue Spring Game: made three extra points
"The experience has helped me understand I can get the job done. I can go out there and kick without the butterflies that somebody like a freshman might have.... I learned so much from Casey. Just his aura, his focus, how poised he was and how he handle different situations was great, especially when I was a freshman. But more than anything he taught me that confidence is the No. 1 thing. You are out there by yourself and the barometer for success is so easy to see. It goes in or it goes out. So having the confidence that you can make it is usually the difference in failing or succeeding as a kicker.''
Kicker: Cody Johnson, junior (Greensboro, NC / Western Guilford HS)
Joined the team as a walk-on in spring of 2012
High school: started at kicker and punter for two seasons • Also played soccer
Kicker: Philip Spelman, sophomore (Nashville, TN / Montgomery Bell Academy)
"During the offseason and summer I have been working on overall leg strength and flexibility through lifts and yoga sessions. We have been running alot and focusing more strictly on overall fitness and endurance as athletes. I kicked alot while I was home in Nashville, and worked on my technique with my coach from high school. Since back at school, we kick and snap as a group multiple times a week."
Punter: Tommy Hibbard, junior (Charlotte, NC / Butler HS)
Hibbard was named to the preseason watch list for the 2013 Ray Guy Award. Hibbard was a second-team All-ACC selection last year after averaging 43.0 yards per punt on 50 kicks, an average that ranked second in the ACC and No. 25 in the country. He had a long of 60 yards in 2012, booted 14 punts of 50 yards or more, had 19 downed inside the 20 and had 10 that were fair caught. Only three of his 50 punts went for touchbacks, and opponents averaged just 4.9 yards per return with a long of just 18 yards. In addition to his work as Carolina's punter, Hibbard served as the holder on extra points and field goals. He helped UNC go a perfect 56 for 56 on PATs and tossed for a two-point conversion on four occasions.
Punter/kicker: Joey Mangili, sophomore (Durham, NC / Jordan Hs)
Joined the team as a walk-on in the fall of 2012
High school: Two-year varsity starter at quarterback and punter • Earned all-conference honors at punter his junior and senior seasons • Also played baseball
Punter/kicker: Nick Weiler, sophomore (Fairfax Station, VA / Lake Braddock)
Joined the team as a walk-on during the fall of 2012
High school: played three seasons, starting at kicker, punter, safety and wide receiver • Leading scorer among kickers at the AAA level in Virginia in 2009 and 2010 • 68 percent of kickoffs in 2010 and 2011 went for touchbacks
White v. Blue Spring Game: hit a 24 yard field goal and made one extra point
Long snapper: Conor Fry, sophomore (Raleigh, NC / Ravenscroft HS)
Joined the team as a walk-on prior to the 2012 season • Was the team’s deep snapper on extra points and field goals last season • Was perfect on all snaps
Long snapper: Mack Lloyd, senior (Cary, NC / Green Hope HS)
Missed spring practice in 2012 while recovering from a torn ACL • Will provide depth at deep snapper in 2013 • Joined the team as a walk-on prior to the 2009 season
Long snapper: Alex Marrs, junior (Bluefield, VA / Graham HS)
Joined the team as a walk on in 2010
High school: First-team all-district at center for three years • First-team all-region selection as a junior and senior • First-team all-state as a senior • Also played basketball, track and field and tennis

Fourth Kicking Competition Concludes: Packers over Mason Crosby over Zach Ramirez & Giorgio Tavecchio

The fourth of several NFL kicking competitions this summer appears to have concluded. Yesterday, an offseason and summer of kicking intrigue in Green Bay came to an apparent conclusion. Veteran Mason Crosby, the only kicker remaining on the roster after the recent releases of two challengers, agreed to a re-structured contract. His base salary for 2013 has been cut from $2.4 million to $0.8 million. He could potentially earn some or all of the difference back, by hitting certain thresholds this year:
  • $400,000 if he is still on the roster Week 5
  • $400,000 if he is still on the roster Week 10
  • $200,000 if he hits 75% on field goals
  • $200,000 if he hits 80% on field goals
  • $400,000 if he hits 85% on field goals
Following a busy week of kicking competition and salary re-negotiations, Mason Crosby commented:
"I feel great. It was a lot of kicks this week, but I’m thankful for them, because I think they got me to a good point.... I have every opportunity to make [my original salary] back as long as I perform and do my job. It’s all right there in front of me, and I’m looking forward to the season. I feel as good as I ever have. The ball is going through the uprights, and that’s what matters at the end of the day."
The most recent challenger was only with the team for several days earlier this week. Rookie Zach Ramirez (Portland State) had a strong tryout and initial practice, but struggled in a head-to-head practice with Crosby. While the latter made all his kicks, Ramirez went only 6 of 16, and was subsequently released. Head coach Mike McCarthy noted:
"We wanted to go both with the wind and against the wind. I thought Mason was exceptional. You could see Ramirez was struggling was a little bit with the timing of it. …  He really didn't have the rhythm and the cadence and the snap down. I think it affected him on the first set of kicks and it carried over to the second set. Two very talented kickers, I think it's very evident just watching those two go head-to-head this week."
From Spring up until shortly after Ramirez was signed, Crosby's kicking competition came from Giorgio Tavecchio. During that time he had the higher field goal percentage of the two, but showed less leg strength. If the Packers change their minds yet again at some point, he could get a call back.
"I’m very appreciative of him keeping me in mind. But that is out of my control. Of course, I’d love to go back to Green Bay. I’d love to go back and have a chance to kick for them in the regular season and be part of that family that has taken me in these last four, five months. But it’s out of my control what they’re thinking. I know I’m going to keep training for the time being. If the time comes and the opportunity presents itself, I would be more than happy to be a Packer....
They just said they were very pleased with how everything went. They wanted to assess some other options and give Zach a chance to compete. From a technique standpoint, I thought I did well. I thought I hit the ball pretty solid throughout camp. I didn’t think there was too much fluctuation with how I kicked the ball. I was pleased. Obviously every kicker wants to hit every kick they ever attempt. But I can take consolation that I didn’t miss anything inside the 40. I think I missed one 42-yarder and the rest were beyond 47’ish. The ones I missed were deeper kicks so I’m pleased with how everything went....
Today, as I feel all of these emotions, a lot of it is sadness for having to say ‘goodbye’ to people I’ve gotten to know there. Teammates and community members. But I know it’s not ‘goodbye.’ It’s ‘until we meet again.’ It’s kind of a crazy journey. It’s as much a journey of self-discovery for myself as it is a journey around the world. I’m staying positive. I really do hope that football’s in the cards for me. I know I’m going to work hard to make it in the cards for me. Only time will tell."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Washington Huskies 2013 Specialists


Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the Washington Huskies.

Kicker/punter: Travis Coons, senior (Alta Loma, CA / Mount San Antonio Community College / Alta Loma HS)
Will handle placekicking this year. Will split punting duties with Durkee.
2012: Handled all the place-kicking duties ... also started handling the punting duties vs. the Cardinal ... made two field goals in the win over No. 7 Oregon State, from 44 and 30 yards ... 30-yarder was the game-winner with 1:20 left in the game ... had a season-best 45.4-yard punting average at Washington State, including his longest punt of the year, 65 yards ... 2-for-3 on field goals in the MAACO Bowl vs. Boise State, where he also punted for a 44.7-yard average on three attempts
"This offseason I have been focusing on being more consistent with my field goals as well as my drop for punts. I've attended a couple more Chris Sailer camps so I can compete with other FBS kickers which is great pressure and will help me get ready for the season."
Head coach Steve Sarkisian: "It's power, it's accuracy, it's wear and tear on Travis as well. I notice him even more fresh kicking field goals now, he's not having to kick off every day in practice and all those things. That's a lot on a guy to have to do triple duty like he had to do last year and it's probably unfair to him, but we were trying to do the best for our team." 
Kicker: Cameron Van Winkle, freshman (Fall City, WA / Mount Si HS)
Will handle kickoffs this year.
High school:  Set state records for career (39) and for single-season field goals made (18 in 2011) ... four-year starting kicker and punter ... Associated Press 3A first-team all-state as a senior ... made 10 field goals and 61-of-62 PATs as a senior and all but four kickoffs in 2012 resulted in touchbacks ... listed as the No. 9 overall recruit in Washington and the nation's No. 5 kicker by scout.com ... named the No. 8 kicker in the country by rivals.com
Punter/holder: Korey Durkee, sophomore (Gig Harbor, WA / Gig Harbor HS)
2012:  True freshman appeared in first three games ... averaged 37.2 yards on five punts, with two being downed inside the 20, vs. SDSU ... punted eight times for a 37.6-yard average at LSU, including two inside the 20 ... two punts for a 33.0-yard average against Portland State
Punter: Zach Grossnickle, senior (Denver, CO / Univ. of Colorado / East HS)
Enrolled in a master's program in public policy and joined the team for fall camp in 2013 ... earned his undergraduate degree from Colorado and is thus eligible to play in 2013. Spent four seasons on the team at Colorado, redshirting as a true freshman in 2009 ... in 2010, served as the team's starting punter, averaging 39.5 yards on 60 punts over 12 games ... in 2012, was the primary kickoff specialist, doing so in nine of 12 games
"It will be a change to wear new colors, but I am looking forward to making the most of my last season of eligibility with a new team. When we play Colorado, it will be good to see some of my buddies from the Buffs, but when it's game day, it's game day, and I'll focus on what I have to do." 
Long snapper: Ryan Masel, sophomore (Phoenix, AZ / Desert Vista HS)
As a true freshman walkon handled all of the long snapping during the 2012 season ... credited with a tackle in the win over Utah
Long snapper: Weston Blackburn, sophomore (Sammamish, WA / Skyline HS)
Joined the Husky team via walk-on tryouts in spring of 2013 and was invited back for the start of fall camp
Long snapper: Luke Hutchinson, freshman (Carnation, WA / O'Dea HS) 
High school: Played tight end, quarterback, linebacker and handled the long snapping

Western Michigan Broncos 2013 Specialists


Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the Western Michigan Broncos.

8/14/13 kicking update:
"Andrew Haldeman, from Ferndale, is in a back-and-forth battle with Brett Scanlon, a freshman from Dowagiac, for the field goal kicking job and neither player is pulling away. 'I see a lot of inconsistency,' Fleck said. 'I think you could pick who you wanted and we would flip a coin and that’s who would start today. Andrew has had numerous opportunities to take it and run with it. He has a lot of experience from the spring. He’s also been very inconsistent. Brett is a rookie. He kicked off a tee in high school. It’s very different to make the transition from the tee to the ground'."...Fleck said Scanlon will be handling the kickoff duties given what he's seen so far in camp."
Kicker: Andrew Haldeman, sophomore (Ferndale, MI / Wayland Union HS)
2012: Holds streak of 27 consecutive PATs made ... made collegiate debut at Illinois (9/1) with an extra point and two touchbacks ... earned MAC West Special Teams POTW with seven PATs and first career FG vs. EIU (9/8) ... tied fourth longes FG made at WMU with 52-yd FG at BSU (10/13)
Kicker: Brett Scanlon, freshman (Dowagiac, MI / Dowagiac Union HS)
High school: Dowagiac's quarterback, linebacker, kicker and punter ... was a pitcher and catcher for the baseball team ... holds the school record for longest field goal, third longest in state, at 55 yards in 2011 ... had 113 PATs made, which is a state record, as well as 30 field goals made over a career, which is also a state record ... named all-state during sophomore, junior and senior seasons, as well as all-area ...was selected to play in the High School Coaches East/West All-Start Game in Michigan
"During the offseason I've been working out everyday mainly working on form and technique. My biggest adjustment has probably just been getting my opp time down. I have been working on drills to get it down. Also, I have been working a lot on my kickoffs trying to get more height and distance. The hurdle drill has really been helping with that."
Punter: Jay Schroeder, sophomore (Columbus, OH / St. Charles Prep)
2012: Made collegiate debut with a 67 yard punt at Illinois (9/1), the longest for WMU since 2007 ... career high number of punts (8) and yards per punt average (42.0) vs. Connecticut (9/22) ... kicked fourth longest punt in WMU history (82 yds) and sixth longest in MAC history, recording best single-game average (66.0 ypp) vs. UMass (10/6) ... kicked fourth longest FG (52 yds) against Ball State (10/13).
"Special teams coach J.B. Gibboney said Schroeder's confidence is growing, which might be the most important aspect for him. The coaching staff introduced rugby style punting that head coach P.J. Fleck said the team will use from time to time to keep opposing punt returners honest. 'I think he’s doing a phenomenal job with the rugby punting,' Fleck said. 'It’s a weapon that we’ll have. He believes in himself. He’s one of the best punters in the league. The consistency of where the ball gets dropped from isn’t there. We know what the issues are and he’s trying to fix them on a daily basis. If he does that I think you’ll see a progression. He’ll get there'."
Long snapper: Kirk Nakama, senior (Santa Clara, CA / St. Francis HS) 
Put on scholarship prior to start of 2012 season. Has snapped in games since November 2010.
"Nakama was announced [in July] as one of 150 nominees for the American Football Coaches Association  Good Works Team. Since 1992, the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team has honored college football players at all levels of the sport for their selfless acts of giving back to the community and off-the-field achievements. These student-athletes represent the sport’s finest in the areas of volunteerism and leadership amongst their peers.... Nakama has played in 28 games in his career and has been on the field for 118 snaps in that span."

Wake Forest Demon Deacons 2013 Specialists


Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

Kicker: Chad Hedlund, sophomore (Argyle, TX / Argyle HS)
2012: Played in six games on the year after making his collegiate debut with a PAT kick during the Maryland game (Oct. 6) ... Converted all three of his field goal attempts on the year, all of which came at Virginia (Oct. 20) ... Converted a season-long 44-yard field goal attempt against the Cavaliers ... Converted 10-of-11 PATs on the season
Preseasonconverted on all three of his field goal attempts making him a perfect seven-for-seven in the two scrimmages
"During the offseason, I worked a lot on my flexibility. Being more flexible has really helped with my explosiveness through the ball, especially on kick-offs. I also got together and worked a lot with my snapper and holder. The whole art of kicking is all about being efficient as possible and I believe that stems from being comfortable and confident as possible with your holder and snapper through repetition. Fortunately last year I was able to step in midseason coming back from a groin injury and get my feet wet going 3-3 on field goals in my first start. This year I hope to continue on that streak as long as I can. As a special teams unit as a whole were looking really solid leading up to the season. As of right now we have pretty high expectations for this season, but at the end of the day our special teams unit as well as myself are just going to go out there for each snap or kick and do our job to the best of our ability in order for our team to be successful."
Punter: Alexander Kinal, sophomore (Adelaide, South Australia / St. Peter's)
2012: Served as the team's punter in all 12 games on the season ... Named honorable mention All-ACC by the coaches ... Punted an ACC-record 95 times for 3,867 yards and an average of 40.7 per punt ... Ranked fourth in the ACC in punting average ... Set a school record with 28 punts inside the 20-yard line ... Tied the school single-game record twice with five punts inside the 20 vs. Liberty (Sept. 1) and vs. North Carolina (Sept. 8) ... Had at least one punt downed inside the 20 in every game ... Had 13 punts of 50 yards or greater ... Had a 61-yard punt vs. Clemson (Oct. 25) that was the second-longest punt in the ACC in 2012
Offseason & preseason: "I conditioned myself a little bit more to be able to train more. I'm in better shape than I was last year. Hopefully that will help me keep my body on track and be able to perform.... [my leg] feels pretty strong. Getting in on the third week of camp it's starting to get a little bit tired, but after a couple of days of rest I'm good to go again."
Working under coaches Billy Mitchell and Sam Swank: "A lot of the stuff, I know what I have to do technically, but it's little pointers from a third-person perspective which is really helpful in regards to fluidity and smoothness. They can see some things that I can't, which really helps me out."
Punter/kicker: Mike Weaver, freshman ( Pine City, NY / Southside HS)
High school: Was primarily a soccer player until playing just his senior year of football ... Played varsity soccer starting in the seventh grade ... Ran track and also played basketball for the Green Hornets ... Has been out of high school for three seasons while pursuing college opportunities ... Booted five field goals in just four varsity football games ... Punted six times for a 53.0 average ... Won a pair of state championships while playing soccer for BC Fusion as a striker and midfielder
Long snapper: Logan Feimster, junior (Statesville, NC / Statesville HS)
2012: Played in all 12 games, serving as the team's starting long snapper ... Handled all punt, field goal and PAT snaps. 
2011: Played in all 13 games, serving as the team's starting long snapper to earn his first varsity letter ... Handled all punt, field goal and PAT snaps on the year ... Also made four special teams tackles as a member of the punt unit 
Long snapper: Ryan Bauder, sophomore (Fort Lauderdale, FL / Pine Crest HS)
High school:  Two-year starter at long snapper ... Also played on the offensive and defensive lines ... Also played baseball
Long snapper: Chase Wilson, freshman (Mooresville, NC / Mooresville HS)
High school: lettered two seasons ... Served as the Blue Devils' long snapper and played on the offensive line ... Served as Special Teams Captain as a senior ... Three-time Mooresville Special Teams Player of the Week

West Virginia Mountaineers 2013 Specialists


Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Kicker/punter: Josh Lambert, freshman (Garland, TX / Gardland HS)
High school:  Two-year starter... Named All-District 10-5A first team kicker as a senior in 2011... made 9-of-16 field goals, including conversions from 47 yards, 48 yards and 51 yards... Kicked 49-of-52 extra points and had 15 touchbacks on kickoffs ... Made 6-of-10 field goals in 2010, including the longest field goal in school history with a 53 yarder against Duncanville ... Was 18-for-18 on extra points... Split time as a punter, averaging 36 yards per punt on 11 punts for 391 yards
"West Virginia hasn't had to look for a place-kicker in four years while Tyler Bitancurt handled the job. Yes, they brought in Corey Smith for the last two seasons, but he never displaced Bitancurt. Now, though, the slate is clean. There's not a kicker on the roster who has ever scored a college point or even attempted to do so. But that the weight of the responsibilities now rests squarely and solely with Lambert doesn't seem to bother him at all. 'I'm confident that I can handle it,' Lambert said. 'Kicking is the same in a game as I do every single day in practice. The only difference is there's 80,000 people around you, 60,000 people around you. Same kicks'.... Lambert says his range is just over 50 yards and he wouldn't hesitate to try something longer, although at about 59-60 he reaches his max. Hopefully, the need for a 50-plus-yard kick won't arise until he gets settled into the job after a kick or two or even a game or two, because he admits he might be just a tad nervous. 'I've never had to go a year without actually playing, so yeah, I'm excited,' said Lambert, who hasn't kicked in a game since high school in 2011. 'Everyone's going to be a little nervous. It'll be my first game in front of a lot of people, a lot of eyes on me and a lot of weight on my shoulders'."
Kicker/punter: Michael Molinari, junior (Parkersburg, WV / Parkersburg South HS)
First on the depth chart for handling kickoffs this year.

2012: Served as the team’s holder for field goals and extra points. Added depth at punter.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen: "Michael Molinari has done a great job punting and has also been doing a lot of kickoff stuff."
Kicker/punter: Alex Louthan, freshman (Grayson, GA / Grayson HS)
"This offseason I have been working out with the WVU strength and conditioning staff and kicking anywhere between 3 and 4 times a week. My mental game has skyrocketed since I have been here at WVU. My goal this season is contribute to the team in any way I can, make the team better in order to win championships, and to fill my role as a player."
Kicker: Scott Levine, freshman (Clarksburg, WV / Robert C. Byrd HS)

Kicker: Mike Molina, freshman (Hurricane, WV / Hurricane HS)

Punter: Nick O'Toole, sophomore (Corona, CA / Mater Dei HS / Fullerton College)
Played one season at Fullerton College … ranked third in the California Community College Athletic Association with an average of 41.8 yards per punt … punted 49 times for 2,050 yards with 15 punts downed inside the 20-yard line … registered a long of 62 yards … named to the 2012 Southern California Football Association All-Conference First Team
"During the offseason we've been working on our technique and trying different styles to see what works better. we have been doing a lot of strength training with our strength staff and staying as flexible as possible. our team goal is the same as every team in our conference, we want to win a Big 12 championship, the specialists goal is to lead the nation in punting avg. and field goal percentage. we want to do the best we can to benefit the team as much as possible. we all believe we have the ability to be the best in the nation and that is what we will strive for this season."
"Special teams coordinator Joe DeForest, however, feels O’Toole is the leader in the race as camp ends and the regular season countdown begins. 'He’s had a good camp,' DeForest said. 'He’s never kicked this much in his life. Obviously he has a great leg, he just has to be more consistent. He can’t hit three 50’s in a row and then hit a 29-yarder off the side of his foot'.”
 Punter: Houston Syvertson, freshman (Shady Spring, WV / Shady Spring HS)

Long snapper: John DePalma, sophomore (Cumming, GA / Pinecrest Academy)
2012: Played in all 13 games... Handled the field goal, punting and extra point snapping duties
Head coach Dana Holgorsen: "John DePalma is light years ahead of where he was last year. That's a very under-appreciated position until they're not very good, but he looks very good."
Long snapper: Nick Meadows, freshman (Williamstown, WV / Williamstown HS)

Florida State Seminoles 2013 Specialists


Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the Florida State Seminoles.

8/28/13 kicking update: 
"Aguayo was Hopkins’ understudy last season and hasn’t kicked in a game since 2011 as a senior in high school. But based on his performance in spring practice and preseason camp, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher is quite comfortable with his new kicker. 'He’s kicked very well ... the kicking off, timing, getting it up and getting it off,' Fisher said on Wednesday. 'He’s kicking the ball very well and I feel very confident.' FSU coaches track everything on their kickers short of the number of water breaks they take. In the preseason, against a live rush or in scrimmages, Aguayo has made 79-of-84 field-goal attempts (.940) and is 8 of 10 on attempts of 50 yards or longer. 'If I miss one, if I feel like I’m not hitting the ball well, I just recall those stats and go back to what I’ve been doing all preseason,' he said. 'If I have bad days, which are rare, I tweak it a little. I feel very comfortable with myself.' FSU coaches would like to see more kickoffs with a hang time of 4.0 seconds or better. Aguayo said he’s averaging about 3.9. Just days from his college debut, Aguayo seems calm. 'If it comes down to me having to try a game-winning kick, in my first year, my first game, I know the pressure will be there,' he said. 'If I’m nervous I just go back to what you’ve been doing in practice'.”
Kicker: Robert Aguayo, freshman (Mascotte, FL / South Lake HS)
One of the nation's top kickers coming out of high school, who spent the 2012 season studying behind FSU's and the ACC's all-time career scorer as well as the NCAA's all-time kick scorer in kicker Dustin Hopkins.
Spring Game:  Aguayo made 5 of 6 field-goal attempts in FSU's spring game, including a 58-yarder and 51-yarder. Had Aguayo's 58-yarder been during a regular-season or bowl game, it would have been the second longest in school history (Gary Cismesia had a 60-yarder in 2007). 'The spring game wasn't an official game,' Aguayo said. 'But in a game (situation), with a snap, hold, with the line watching, that's my farthest with a bunch of people watching me'."
"I've just been working hard day by day getting better and just trying to stay healthy overall. My plans are to come into this season prepared to help my team in every situation possible, whether it be putting a kickoff on the one or hitting a 50 yard field goal to win the game."
Kicker: Clayton Pickler, sophomore (Grapevine, TX / Colleyville Heritage HS)
"I returned to campus on June 1st and have been attending team workouts Monday through Friday every week. Working out and conditioning every day have helped me become a much better athlete and the addition of kicking at least every other day have put in me in a position of comfort where I feel ready to kick in the fall. My goals for rest of summer are to be as physically prepared for the season as I can be and to continue perfecting my craft to be the best kicker I can be. My goals for the fall are to capitalize on any in game opportunities that I earn and the eventual goal is to earn and solidify my position as the starting kicker. The real goal above all is to help Florida State bring home a National Championship."
Punter: Cason Beatty, sophomore (Charlotte, NC / Olympic HS)
"In the spring, Beatty was adamant in saying that he has spent this offseason working on ways to increase his average and shorten the amount of time it takes for him to catch and kick the ball. He and long-snappers have gotten into a better rhythm and have a better idea of what height Beatty can catch the ball from before driving his leg upward. By the end of his first year, Beatty began seeing improvements throughout his game. His punts were going higher, some were traveling further. Field position was becoming much more of an asset to the Seminoles. For those reasons, he's optimistic that 2013 will be a much better year."
Long snapper: Philip Doumar, senior (Jupiter, FL / Jupiter HS)
2013: Enters his fifth year in the program as the top choice to replace four-year starter Dax Dellenbach as the long snapper. Has snapped in four games in his career.
2012: Appeared in two games for the `Noles but traveled to each contest...snapped in the first two games of the season against Murray State and Savnnah State.
Long snapper: Danny Adams, junior (Ft. Lauderdale, FL / St. Thomas Aquinas)
Transfer from eastern Kentucky University.
Long snapper: Barrett Kernon, junior (Ormond Beach, FL / Seabreeze HS)
"We have been working out and running every day. When it comes to snapping we do so about 3-4 times a week. We do a lot of work with med balls to work on speed and also a lot of accuracy drills. My goal for the summer is to get bigger faster and stronger and with that continue to excel in snapping for my goals this upcoming season I want to earn playing time and the starting job and be perfect at what I do"
Long snapper: Mitchell Zak, junior (New Smyrna Beach, FL / Calvary Christian Academy)

Long snapper: Rhett Goodman, sophomore (Tamps, FL / Jesuit-Tampa)

East Carolina Pirates 2013 Specialists


Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the East Carolina Pirates.

Kicker: Warren Harvey, junior (Greenville, NC / J.H. Rose HS)
Harvey, who earned a sport on the CFPA Placekicker Trophy Watch List, was an All-Conference USA Honorable Mention selection after converting all 50 PATs and 15-of-20 field goal attempts, which included a career-long 54-yarder at Southern Miss. The Greenville, N.C. native made a career-best eight PATs in the season finale against Marshall lifting ECU to a 65-59 double-overtime win. He led the team with 95 points, scored a season-high 12 against Houston (4 PATs, 2 FGs) and ranked among league leaders in PAT percentage (1st), kick scoring (6th), field goal percentage (6th), field goals (t6th) and total scoring (9th).
"In order to have an even brighter second season, Harvey said he’s worked a great deal on the mental aspect of his game. 'I’m really just trying to keep my confidence level up,' Harvey said. 'As a kicker, you have those ups and downs, and you have to be able to maintain that even line where you’re just right in the middle, never too high and never too low. You have to have confidence coming into each individual kick'."
Kicker: Shawn Williams, sophomore (Winston-Salem, NC / North Davidson HS)
Williams added 48 and 27-yard field goals in the second period to round out the scoring.
Kicker: Connor Torruella, feshman (Garner, NC / Garner HS)
Torruella hit several PATs during spring scrimmages this year. His one field goal attempt in the Purple-Gold Game was blocked.
Punter/holder: Trent Tignor, senior (Hoschton, GA / Mill Creek HS)
Tignor was named to the CFPA Punter Trophy Watch List after appearing in 13 games a season ago as the Pirates top punter. The All C-USA honoree logged 65 punts for 2,779 yards (42.8 avg.) with nine touchbacks placing 14 punts inside the opponents 20-yards line and booted 10 balls for 50-plus years with a career-long 65 against Navy. The Hoschton, Ga. native captured C-USA Special Teams Player-of-the-Week honors after his performance at Southern Miss where he delivered a career-best 10 punts for 422 yards (42.2 avg.), placing three kicks inside the 20-yard line (two inside the 10). His 10 attempts against the Golden Eagles were the most for an ECU punter since 2004.
Head Coach Ruffin McNeill: "On punting duties, Trent Tignor and Brendan Rowland will man those. Trent did a fantastic job for us last year as an all-conference selection and one of the top guys in our league."
Trent Tignor recorded three punts - averaging 48.3 yards per kick - while Brendan Rowland booted his only attempt 50 yards.
"Tignor has his sights set on improving on last season’s impressive performance. Prior to fall camp, he spent the summer as an intern with Morgan Stanley, and fortunately, his boss was flexible with hours so he could get out and work on his game. 'I did some snapping with Charlie Coggins, our long snapper,' said Tignor. 'We were able to meet up a few times. I did a lot of work with the Wake Forest long snapper, Logan Feimster, and an old James Madison long snapper. So I was able to branch out and make some new connections through some different schools'.”

Punter: Brendan Rowland, senior (Mission Viejo, CA / Saddleback CC)
"During the off season I have really been focused on strength an conditioning so that when the season comes my leg will be strong and healthy. Besides normal punts I've been focusing on mastering an end over end punt for inside the 20 use."
Long snapper: Charlie Coggins, junior (Albemarle, NC / Albemarle HS)
"Trent and I are each working internships in the Charlotte area, so we have been getting together and really trying to get our consistency and accuracy down to add to my speed. We feel we have a great specialist unit. Last year we downed almost 10 punts inside the 5 yard line. As a unit we want to have all of our pooch punts inside the 15. We also want to play penalty free, as well as make average 45 yards this year in net punt. Trent has amazing hang time and really helps our athletes on the punt team to make the fundamental plays that are crucial to winning football games. We consider ourselves one of the top punt units in the country and would like to prove that on the field this season."
Short snapper/OL: C.J. Struyk, sophomore (Morehead City, NC / West Carteret)
"I've been in summer school and doing weight lifting and conditioning with coach Connors. My goal is to start at center in the fall and start on the field goal team being the short snapper."
Head Coach Ruffin McNeill: "I feel very good about our specialists Charlie Coggins and C.J. Struyk handling the long snapping duties. At this time last year, we were trying to develop this position and those two guys came in and have done it in live action and we feel very confident in those guys, long and short snapping."
Long snapper: Keith Lee, freshman (Wake Forest, NC / Rolesville HS)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Washington State Cougars 2013 Specialists


Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the Washington State Cougars.

Kicker: Andrew Furney, senior (Burlington, WA / Burlington-Edison HS)
Named to the Lou Groza Award preseason watch list.
2012: earned a varsity letter after appearing in all 12 games...named All-Pac-12 second team...went 14-of-20 on field goals, fourth-most makes in Pac-12...kicked a long of 60...was 25-of-26 on extra points...was 7-for-7 on attempts from inside 30 yards...6-of-9 from 40+ yards...posted 67 points...named a team captain five times...hit all three field goal attempts in Apple Cup win over Washington, made from 21 and 45 yards before kicking game-winner from 27 yards in overtime...named Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week following the Apple Cup victory
"Furney said he struggled a bit during WSU’s 10-day stay in Lewiston, because he wasn’t used to kicking on such a thick, grass surface. 'That took me back to my high school days, which was kind of fun, but at the same time it was like, ‘am I kicking bad? Is it the surface?’ Furney said. 'Once we came back here and I started kicking the ball well, it was nice to understand that I’m still hitting the ball well'.”
Punter/kicker: Mike Bowlin, senior (Aliso Viejo, CA / Saddleback JC / Aliso Niguel HS)
Named to the Ray Guy Award preseason watch list.
2012: earned a varsity letter after starting all 12 games at punter...averaged 41.9 yards-per-punt...punted 58 times for 2,433 yards...put eight punts inside the 20...recorded 14 punts of 50+ yards including a long of 69...also tallied 18 touchbacks on kickoffs, the most by a Cougar since 2005...recorded a punt of 50+yards in six straight games...posted team-high seven tackles on special teams
"Austin Apodaca is already familiar with the position, having held for placekicks throughout high school. Bowlin said he’s never done it before, but he enjoys it and thinks it could be a positive addition to his resume as a kicker. 'Teams at the next level obviously like it if you can do another position, like hold,' Bowlin said. 'This is actually my first year holding, but as a kicker you always just go out there and hold for your fellow kickers just for practice, just for fun'.”
Kicker/punter: Wes Concepcion, junior (Kent, WA  / Kentridge HS)
2012: appeared in one game...punted twice at No. 19 Stanford...posted a long of 51.

Four-year letterwinner in football...earned All-South Puget Sound League second team honors as a sophomore and junior...as a senior, recorded 23 touchbacks and was named SPSL Special Teams Player of the Year...also named to All-SPSL first team...selected to play in East/West All-Star Game...also lettered twice in soccer and swimming
Punter: Thomas Fossedal, junior (Mukilteo, WA / Kamiak HS)
"I practiced punting the entire offseason. My goal is to perform to the best of my abilities and collectively improve as a group. Field position and field goals are more important than a lot of people think."
Punter: Erik Powell, freshman (Vancouver, WA / Seton Catholic HS)
Powell is a longtime soccer standout and was an all-state defender as a junior. He was also a wide receiver for Seton Catholic.
Long snapper: Alex Den Bleyker, junior (Fremont, CA / Moreau Catholic)
2012: Earned a varsity letter after appearing in all 12 games at long snapper 
2011: Appeared in five games...took over long-snapping duties for the final three games
Long snapper: Ryan Saparto, junior (Everett, WA / Archbishop Murphy HS / Victor valley College)
2012: Member of the team...did not appear in a game.

Played one year at Victor Valley College in Victorville, Calif....started all 10 games at longsnapper for VVC.
Long snapper: Jerred Sonneborn, freshman (Spokane, WA / Gonzaga Prep) 
High school: three-year letterwinner in football…as a senior, earned All-Greater Spokane League Second Team honors…also lettered four times in golf. 

Wyoming Cowboys 2013 Specialists


Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the Wyoming Cowboys.

Kicker: Stuart Williams, junior (Nederland, CO / Nederland HS)
Williams returns as the prohibitive favorite to kick field goals for the Pokes in 2013. He has a punting background as well, so his versatility will be valuable insurance for the Cowboy special teams.
2012: Williams stepped up as the starting place-kicker for the Cowboys in 2012. He went 35-for-37 on extra-point attempts, and hit 7-of-12 field-goal attempts. He was the team's leading scorer with 56 points for the season. Williams went a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals versus Toledo, and hit all his attempts versus Texas and Air Force. He earned his first letter.
Spring Game:  made a 19 yard field goal and had a 47 yard attempt blocked, 5 of 5 on extra points, averaged 51.7 yards on three punts
"The most positive aspect of Wyoming’s special teams from the spring was junior kicker Stuart Williams. In three scrimmages and the spring game, Williams made all 25 of his extra-point attempts and was 20 of 21 on field goals, with a long of 41. Williams also did a lot of kicking during practices, and was accurate then, too. His efforts earned him a scholarship starting this fall. Williams worked hard in the offseason, and it showed. The ball is getting off his foot faster and higher. I think he is most comfortable from 40 yards and in, but he has the leg to make field goals of up to 50 yards. The two field goals Williams missed were blocked."
Kicker/SS: Justin Martin, sophomore (Oakdale, CA / Oakdale HS)
Projected kickoff specialist for the Pokes entering fall camp, and he also is listed at strong safety

2012: Martin became a special teams weapon for the Pokes in 2012, as the kickoff specialist pinned teams deep early and often. Over 59 kickoffs, he averaged nearly 61 yards per boot. The average starting field position for opponents after Martin's kicks was the 26-yard line. He tallied 26 touchbacks.
Kicker: Matt Barr, freshman (Yorba Linda, CA / Yorba Linda HS)
High school: over three seasons he hit 12 of 21 field goals with a long of 45, made 83 of 95 extra points, averaged 50.6 yards on 128 kickoffs, averaged 34.4 yards on 51 punts
Punter/kicker: Ethan Wood, freshman (Colorado Springs, CO / Liberty HS)
Listed as starting punter for the season opener.
High school: Wood was an accomplished athlete in both football and soccer at Liberty, earning two all-state nods in soccer and an all-conference nod in football as a senior. He was the team MVP of his freshman soccer team.
Spring Game:  averaged 44.5 yards on two punts
"The first half of the summer, all of June, I was working out with the football team here in Laramie. I would try to get out to kick at least three times a week. For the month of July, I went back home to Colorado Springs and kicked about five times a week with my kicking coach to make sure I had my mechanics down so I was ready for the upcoming season. My goal for this season is to instill trust into my teammates and coaches and prove that I can do my job as a punter/kicker and do it well."
Long snapper: Brendan Turelli, freshman (Pheonix, AZ / Arcadia HS)
Turelli is the projected starter at the long snapper position for the UW Special Forces entering fall camp.

High School: Turelli was selected to and played in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 4 in St. Petersburg, Fla. He was ranked as the No. 6 long snapper recruit in the nation by Scout.com. Turelli earned All-Division, All-Section and All-City honors as a junior and senior.

Third Kicking Competition Concludes: David Akers over Håvard Rugland

The third of several NFL kicking competitions this summer has concluded. Yesterday Detroit released Håvard Rugland, which means that David Akers will be the Lions kicker this year. Whether it was truly a competition is perhaps debatable, given that Rugland had no prior football experience at any level, but in the end he fared much, much better than many had predicted and of course it garnered extensive public and media interest world wide. Or maybe, in our rapidly changing world, it was indeed a competition.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Rugland:
“He had a good camp, but I think when it was all said and done Akers was a clear-cut winner in that position. What the future holds, I don’t know. I do know that he had a good camp and that he improved from beginning until the end. The future is probably in his hands.... He has good ability. Like a lot of young kickers, he needs to work on consistency. That’s a lot of guys who have been released over the last few weeks is for the same thing. It’s not a matter of talent as much as consistency and things like that.”
Wide receiver Nate Burleson said of Rugland:
“He always had a smile on his face. To be honest, I think he’s a NFL-caliber kicker. Hopefully, he’ll get an opportunity somewhere.”
Fellow kicker David Akers also discussed having worked with Rugland the last few months:
“He’s definitely consistent as far as making field goals. His form changes a lot. Some people probably want to see more of that: looking the same, the same shot type. But nothing you can take away from a guy who’s never done anything and come out and he’s done well kicking field goals. There’s a lot to the craft. It takes time to develop.... He seemed appreciative to have an opportunity to be here. We became decent friends, so we’re definitely going to be keeping in contact with each other. He’s a great person, man. It’s a blessing to have him in my life.”
Akers also noted:
"His favorite word was Püh-fect. I’d say, ‘Hey, man, great kick.’ ‘Yeah, püh-fect.’ ‘Let’s go out and grab a bite to eat.’ ‘Püh-fect.’ I’d like to get a shirt made that said, ‘Püh-fect’ on it. Even as big as the media thing got with him, he never had an ego. He just enjoys life, has a good time at what he’s doing, tried to learn a lot. He just kind of ate up every moment of it.”
Constrained to 140 characters, Håvard Rugland tweeted yesterday:
"Want to thank the Lions Org. for the opportunity. Also wanted to thank my fans & teammates, you guys are awesome. It was a great experience."
Epilogue: 
Lost amidst the focus on the released kicker is the fact that Akers kicks on. Two years ago he had a record setting season. One year ago he struggled and dealt with an injury, came close to losing his job in the playoffs, and then did lose it during the offseason. This year is just getting started.

Dallas Cowboys 2013 Specialists News

News and notes for Dallas Cowboys specialists in 2013:
August 28th: "released former [Nebraska] Husker and Kearney Bearcat free agent kicker Brett Maher. Brett was signed two weeks ago shortly after the York Jets released him. Both Brett and his father Brian Maher hinted today on the Doug and Daddy radio show that it wouldn't be a surprise if he were released today since the Cowboys do have a reliable kicker in Dan Bailey. However, Brett said he does expect another call from another team to get a shot. Hooking on as a free agent is difficult but Brett is not ready to give up trying and he may get another chance."

August 13th:  "Brett Maher hit six-of-six kicks during the Cowboys’ second practice of the week on Monday. But the rookie’s presence hardly seems like competition for Bailey – rather, it’s more like well-deserved rest. 'You don’t want your kicker to be, kind of, kicking to help your team function, and wear his leg out during training camp,' coach Jason Garrett said. 'He’s a strong kid, he’s very athletic – that’s never been a concern with him. But you need to be able to function and having another leg -- both for your punter and your place kicker -- can really help.'That should free Dan Bailey up to work on the other nuances of his game. He has worked extensively on kickoffs and onside kick with new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia on top of his barrage of field goals."

August 12th: released rookie long snapper P.J. Mangieri (Nebraska) who had been signed August 11th.

August 9th: "Dan Bailey, who has had only one blocked kick in his two seasons, had a 26-yard attempt blocked in the second quarter Friday. The Raiders overloaded the right side of the Cowboys’ line, with Tracy Porter going outside, around tight end Dante Rosario, and Tyvon Branch and Kevin Burnett going between guard David Arkin and Rosario. Rosario didn’t block any of the three, and Branch went through cleanly. 'I think we just had a lot of pressure from the right side,' Bailey said. 'The operation was good as far as our speed, and I thought I hit the ball good, got the ball up. …But it seemed like we had quite a big push on the right side, I don’t know, maybe between the guard and the tight end, somewhere over there'.”
 
August 7th: released kicker/punter Spencer Benton (Clemson), an undrafted rookie free agent that had been signed following this year's draft

May 29th: released long snapper Charley Hughlett, free agent that had been re-signed in January

Michigan State Spartans 2013 Specialists


Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the Michigan State Spartans.

8/27/13 kicking update:
"While it wasn’t the first item coach Mark Dantonio covered Tuesday, it eventually was revealed senior Kevin Muma would be the Spartans kicker. Thanks to social media, in fact, Muma’s mom found out before he did. 'I got a text from my mom,' Muma said. 'I haven’t even been able to talk to her yet.' While it might have come as a surprise to Muma’s mother, it almost certainly has been one to many who follow Michigan State football. Muma has been handling strictly the kickoff duties the past three seasons while Dan Conroy has taken care of field goals and extra points. And during spring practice, Dantonio said walk-on Kevin Cronin was the best kicker. On top of that, freshman Michael Geiger arrived for preseason camp as the top kicker in the nation. Everything seemed to point toward one more year of kickoffs for Muma. But as camp progressed, the fifth-year senior started to separate himself. 'He had a great camp,' Dantonio said. 'Muma has been consistent throughout. He has to remain consistent the rest of this week. He’s got a job to win game day, but I’m pretty confident that he’s done the job. He certainly has all the ability.”
8/17/13 kicking update:
"Muma was an impressive 7-of-8 kicking field goals in Saturday's closed scrimmage. Geiger was 5-of-6 kicking field goals, including a 46-yarder. 'It's tight,'' coach Mark Dantonio said following Saturday's scrimmage. 'Kevin Muma has had a great camp. At end of game made a 46 yard kick with two seconds left. I thought they both kicked very well. I'm happy to see Muma kicking well.'.... 'Muma has had a great camp thus far, and Geiger is in there,'' Dantonio said. 'Those two are competing. Cronin has been good, but Muma has been very consistent, and Geiger, for a true freshman, is right there. (Muma) has taken a big step forward, his confidence is very high. He's 22 of 24 in scrimmage situations.'' Make it 29 of 32 after Saturday'."
Kicker: Kevin Muma, senior (Troy, MI / Troy HS)
Three-year letterwinner has spent the past three seasons as Michigan State's starting kickoff specialist . . . has a career average of 64.4 yards on kickoffs.

This year he is competing for the placekicking job which is open with the graduation of Dan Conroy.
Kicker: Kevin Cronin, freshman (Traverse City, MI / Traverse City West Senior HS)
2012: redshirted
Spring game: In constant swirling winds, both of the Spartan placekickers made their only field-goal attempts and also connected on their PATs. Cronin drilled a 30-yarder in the first quarter to give the Green a 3-0 lead, while Muma also booted a 30-yard field goal that tied the game at 17 in the fourth quarter.
April 2013:  head coach Mark Dantonio said, “I would say Cronin is having an excellent spring so far, and right now he sits at No. 1 and he’s been very consistent. With that being said, Mike Geiger is the young man we recruited. Very highly thought-of kicker in the country, and he’ll come in and add immediate competition for that position.”
Kicker: Michael Gieger, freshman (Toledo, OH / Ottawa Hills HS)
"I know how important it will be, especially the style of play Michigan State plays. Every point and every field goal is critical. I embrace that.'... I've tried to stay as sharp as possible by becoming more accurate and watching film of my kicking to stay technically sound. If I keep doing what I'm doing and keep improving, I could come in and win that spot. But I know I have to come in and compete.''
"Geiger’s got to come in immediately and be thrown into the group. I don’t think we can sit there and wait and say, ‘Is he going to be the guy?’ He’s gotta get a lot of reps and he’s gotta kick in front of our football team. That will be his first pressure situation. The next thing he has got to be able to do is kick in situational things that determine the outcome of a scrimmage or the outcome of a situation. We’re gonna try and put pressure on him and let him go head to head with (Kevin) Muma and (Kevin) Cronin and even Evan Fischer. But we have to put pressure on him.” - head coach Mark Dantonio
Kicker: Evan Fischer, freshman (Holt, MI / Holt HS)
2012: redshirted
Punter: Mike Sadler, junior (Grand Rapids, MI / Forest Hills Northern)
Sadler was named to the Ray Guy Award Watch List, the Augusta Sports Council announced on Wednesday. The award honors the nation's top punter. A two-year letter winner, Sadler has spent the past two seasons as Michigan State's starting punter and owns a career average of 42.4 yards per punt, which is currently sixth best in MSU history. He has placed 40 percent of his career punts inside the 20 (56-of-140) and 20 percent inside the 10 (28-of-140).
Winter and summer conditioning is not actually about conditioning, it’s about growing as a team. So far we’ve done a very good job and have very good chemistry. I’m really excited about that.”
Long snapper: Taybor Pepper, sophomore (Saline, MI / Saline HS)
"This off season has done a lot for me. I've increased my strength enormously. Most of all I've matured a lot, not only as a football player, but as a young man. Since I started as a true freshman my goal is to come back my sophomore year and kill it! I'm excited that I have a year of experience under my belt and I'm ready to help my team however I can. We're going to the Rose Bowl baby!"
Long snapper: Leland Ewing, junior (Jackson, MI / Lumen Christi Catholic)
2012: Served as the back-up long snapper behind Pepper.
Long snapper: Steve Moore, junior (Pinconning, MI / Pinconning HS)
2012: Missed the entire 2012 season after suffering a neck injury over the summer.
2011: Appeared in three games as a long snapper to earn his first letter . . . was the starting long snapper for the Spartans in the 2012 Outback Bowl win over No. 18 Georgia.