the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Florida Gators Kicker, Punter & Snapper News


June 17, 2015 - freshman walk-on punter Jack Spicer
"Once a preferred walk-on commit for USF, Spicer, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound special teams standout at Estero (Fla.) High School, also had interest from Cincinnati and FIU early on.... When Spicer joins the team with the rest of Florida's 2015 signees next Tuesday, he'll be one of two punters on the roster. With Christy graduating last season, redshirt sophomore Johnny Townsend is the only scholarship punter on the roster. Christy finished last season with strong numbers following a down 2013 campaign, but Townsend projects to pick up where Christy left off." - Rivals

March 15, 2015 - spring specialists
"Kicker - Who's gone: Frankie Velez. Who's back: Austin Hardin. What's next: Hardin won't have much in the way of competition this spring and is the clear starter heading into the season. He started gaining consistency and confidence in the second half of last season and will try to continue that trend through the spring and summer.
Punter - Who's gone: Kyle Christy. Who's back: Johnny Townsend, William Few, Connor Gilboy and Dallas Stubbs. What's next: Like Hardin, Townsend is the only player at his position on scholarship and will be tough to unseat in the spring. He took Christy's starting job away midway through the 2013 season, but then went back to the bench in 2014 when Christy regained his form. Townsend is a proven punter who will work on consistency this spring." - Gainesville Sun

November 29, 2014 - kicker Austin Hardin hits four, then misses pair in loss to Florida State
"Kicker Austin Hardin made more field goals at Doak Campbell Stadium than he had all of this season. But his performance will be remembered for the kicks he missed in the 24-19 loss. Hardin started off 4-for-4 on Saturday, highlighted by a career-long 52-yard field goal. It was the most field goals by a UF kicker in a game since Caleb Sturgis hit four against Tennessee in 2011. But with the Gators trailing by two points in the second half, he missed wide right from 52 and then again from 42 yards out. 'He did some nice things in the game,' UF coach Will Muschamp said. 'He made the first one, a 52-yarder. I think he missed one from (more than) 50. Those are longer field goals. He hit the ball well in those situations. Wish we would have gotten all of them.' Hardin entered Saturday’s game having made three consecutive field goals since missing his first try of the year, including a 49-yard game winner at Tennessee and a 48-yarder last week. After connecting on just 4-of-12 field-goal attempts in 2013, Muschamp believes Hardin has turned a corner despite his poor finish against the Seminoles. 'I think from a confidence standpoint, he’s done a nice job,' Muschamp said." - Gainesville Sun

October 4, 2014 - Austin Hardin kicks winning score
"But after hitting a 49-yard field goal to give Florida a 10-9 lead with 6:20 remaining in the game, memories of 2013 couldn’t be dimmer. 'There was a lot of adversity in different areas of my life,' Austin Hardin said. 'I went through a lot. It was tough to go from a point where coming out of high school, you’re on a career high, then you come into the lowest of the lows that you’ve ever been. I just had to suck it up. I’m here for a reason, so know that and be confident in it. You have to be confident in yourself and getting my confidence back was key in it. It was a little bit of redemption. Finally. I knew I could do it. I do it all the time.' If Saturday’s field goal happened last season, it would’ve been a sigh of relief. But this year, it was expected. It’s that mental turnaround that is the difference for Hardin. As he jogged back to the sideline, he got a pat on the head from head coach Will Muschamp, who also said 'hell of a kick' to Florida’s long field goal specialist. With the split in field goals this season, Hardin didn’t know when the opportunity would come. Senior Frankie Velez is handling field goals when the ball is on the 25-yard line or closer, while Hardin takes the longer ones because he has better leg strength. 'That was a great kick by Austin Hardin,' Muschamp said. 'Outstanding. A lot of confidence in him'." - Scout

September 17, 2014 - punter Kyle Christy
"After months of hard work in the offseason, Christy returned to form in last Saturday's 36-30 triple overtime win against Kentucky with a 48.7 average and saved the Gators from an upset with several huge punts that forced the 'Cats deep into their own territory when a big drive could have won the game. As a result he was named the SEC special teams player of the week. 'It feels good. I'm excited about it,' the senior said. 'It's a lot about timing. It's mostly about having a consistent drop.' Christy never had a moment this fall when he felt, 'I'm back. I didn't think that, but I definitely did feel myself getting into a good rhythm,' he said." - Florida Today

September 2, 2014 - Kyle Christy named starting punter
"Kyle Christy, who went from Ray Guy award finalist in 2012 to backup punter in 2013, has regained his starting role, Muschamp said. He'd lost his job last season to true freshman Johnny Townsend, who is now the No. 2 guy. 'Kyle Christy will be the punter,' Muschamp said. 'We feel like Kyle was a little more consistent, but certainly Johnny is more than capable.' Muschamp used the Christy-Townsend competition to illustrate how coaches sometimes have to make tough decisions based on what's best for the team. 'I talked to (the players) about everybody's role within the organization,' Muschamp said. 'You don't have to really like your role, but you need to embrace it. And if you don't like it, do something about it'.' - Gainesville Sun

August 30, 2014 - punter Johnny Townsend expected to redshirt this year
"Florida sophomore Johnny Townsend, who took over the Gators’ punting duties midway through last season after inconsistency from All-American Kyle Christy, is likely to redshirt this season, according to Townsend’s father, Clay. The move would give Christy his final season as the Gators’ No. 1 punter and clear the way for three more years of eligibility for Townsend. Townsend, one of few bright spots for the Gators last season, made good on his opportunity when Christy was benched after fives games in 2013. Townsend made his first start against Missouri and held the job through the rest of the Gators 4-8 season. Townsend earned first team freshman all-SEC honors and averaged 42 yards on 29 punts in six games." - Orlando Sentinel

August 26, 2014 - holder announced, kicker & punter still pending
"Jeff Driskel won’t just be responsible for taking care of the ball when the Gators are on offense. According to UF’s depth chart, which was released Tuesday, the redshirt junior quarterback is also the team’s starting holder on special teams.'I’d like to classify myself as a versatile player,' Driskel said. 'I think it’s an opportunity to give the field goal block team some issues. You have to give them more things to think about during the week.' But there is uncertainty throughout the rest of Florida’s special teams unit. The placekicker battle between Austin Hardin and Frankie Velez, which has been ongoing since spring camp, has yet to be decided. The punter battle between Kyle Christy and Johnny Townsend has not been determined either." - Alligator

August 22, 2014 - kicker Frankie Velez awarded scholarship
"Florida coach Will Muschamp had a chance to enjoy one of his favorite moments Friday after practice, awarding scholarships to two walk-on players in front of the rest of the team.... 'Frankie is still in competition for field goal kicking duties and extra point duties and I think he has done a fantastic job in camp and has been here for five years and done everything we've asked him to do as far as those things. Plugging in last year. Both of those guys very well rewarded and I'm happy for both of those guys.' Velez played five games for the Gators last season, completing 6 of 8 field goals and 6 of 6 point after attempts." - Ocala Star Banner

August 10, 2014 - summer scrimmage
"Florida’s struggling field goal kickers also continue to show some promise. Coach Will Muschamp said Austin Hardin, Brooks Abbott and Frankie Velez combined to make 13 of 15 field-goal attempts in Sunday’s scrimmage. Velez and Abbott followed that up by each converting 47-yard attempts at the end of Monday’s practice. 'Austin Hardin was 6 of 7. Brooks Abbott was 4 of 5. Frankie Velez was 3 of 3, I believe, in the scrimmage, and I thought kicked the ball well,' Muschamp said. 'We had a couple bad snaps that we’ve got to work on. Operation time is not where it needed to be, and I don’t think that was on them'.” - News Herald

August 3, 2014 - camp specialists
“We've been working really hard over the summer, doing a lot of things unseen, getting better and competing with each other,' Florida sophomore punter Johnny Townsend said. 'Personally we weren't happy with how things turned out last season with special teams. But we're on the rise and ready to go'.... coach Will Muschamp said the kicking job is still open, though Austin Hardin helped himself with a strong spring. 'I have a lot more confidence (in Hardin) coming out of the spring and the spring game as opposed to maybe going into the spring,' Muschamp said. At punter, Christy and Townsend will battle for the starting job in camp. Both feel the competition will fuel them to better performances during the season. For Christy, a senior, it's the last shot to regain the form he displayed in his stellar sophomore season. Christy also had a strong showing in the spring game, averaging 43.3 yards per punt with a long of 51 yards. 'I think I had a good spring and I'm not going to change things now,' Christy said. 'I feel confident'.” - Gainesville Sun

July 1, 2014 - summer specialists
"Austin Hardin is Florida’s lone scholarship kicker but was replaced and platooned with Francisco Velez last season. Hardin seemed to have corrected an issue where he would fall off to his left when kicking and performed much better in the spring than he showed during the 2013 season.Velez will compete with incoming freshman and fellow Miami native, Jorge Powell and transfer Brooks Abbot for the starting job. This job is completely and entirely wide open. Someone will have to win the job this summer and fall.... The good news for Gator fans is that we saw the 2012 version of Kyle Christy this past spring — booming punts sent 50 and 60 yards down the field with enough hang time to bring down rain with the ball. Christy worked tirelessly with a personal kicking coach after the season and he’s ready to put the 2013 season behind him. Johnny Townsend performed well — especially for a player who was supposed to redshirt and learn behind an All-American — and went kick-for-kick with Christy this spring." - Gator Country

May 7, 2014 - spring specialists
"Three kickers, Austin Hardin, Frankie Velez and walk-on redshirt freshman phenom Danny Krysalka return in 2014. While all indications at the spring game pointed towards an improved performance (3-for-4 on field goal attempts), fans still have reason to worry about this position in the fall. Head coach Will Muschamp said during one spring scrimmage that Hardin was 7-for-9 (missing from 47 and 41) and Velez was 7-for-8 (missing from 46).... As for the punting game, it has, by all indications, drastically improved. Kyle Christy appears to have returned to form (with a 52.5 yard average in the spring game), and moved beyond last season’s disappointment." - GamedayR

May 1, 2014 - kicker Austin Hardin
"Coach Will Muschamp saw improvement from Hardin this spring, especially inside the Swamp and in front of fans at the Orange & Blue Debut. 'I feel like we made some strides there,' Muschamp stated. 'I think Austin Hardin has all the ability in the world. A guy that was four for four in the spring game and probably as happy as I was walking off the field knowing he had hit four for four'.... For Muschamp, he believes Hardin’s spring performance improved the mental approach from his kicker. 'I feel like we have gained some confidence back in that position'.” - 247Sports

April 12, 2014 - spring game kicking
"Along with the productive overall offensive performance Saturday, one of the most promising things to come out of the spring game was the performance of place-kicker Austin Hardin, who converted all four of his field-goal attempts. Hardin was good from 43, 42, 24 and 35 yards kicking for both teams.... His performance Saturday should give him a considerable confidence boost. 'Well, I think confidence (is big),' UF coach Will Muschamp said. 'The golf swing and the swing of the kicker's leg are very similar, and a lot of that has to do with confidence and hitting the ball the same way all the time. I think he's just been more consistent with his plant foot, he's been more consistent with his swing motion of kicking through the ball, and more consistent with his follow through, falling forward. You see too many times last year he's falling off to the left on everything. Well, that causes you to overcompensate, pull it, push it. So he's been more consistent with kicking the ball.' Hardin has clearly emerged as UF's kicker. He missed an extra point Saturday, but that was the result of a bad snap." - The Ledger

April 8, 2014 - kickers & punters
"Coach Will Muschamp saw signs of hope during the Gators’ scrimmage Saturday. 'Austin was 7 of 9 field goal-wise. He missed from 47 and 41. Frankie was 7 of 8 and missed from 46,' Muschamp said Tuesday. 'So I thought we've made some improvement as far as being more accurate in kicking the football and some red-zone things and converting and getting points there. I was pleased with that.' Hardin was 4-for-12  a season ago but 0-for-6 from 40 or more yards. Velez, a walk-on who got a look with Hardin struggling, made 6 of 8 last season, including a 44-yarder at LSU that was Florida’s longest field goal of the season. Phillips was a senior last year and is no longer with the team. Hardin and Velez are the only experienced kickers on the roster. Walk-on Danny Krysalka, a redshirt freshman from Ocala Forest High, has not seen game action. Meanwhile, the outlook for punter Kyle Christy has improved. Christy had an outstanding sophomore season in 2012, averaging a school-record 45.8 yards per kick including 27 inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Christy averaged only 39.6 yards on 21 punts last season and lost his job at midseason to freshman Johnny Townsend. With Townsend sidelined following wrist surgery, Christy appears to have regained his form. 'Kyle Christy punted the ball extremely well, really hit the ball well,' Muschamp said of Saturday’s scrimmage. 'He's really punted well. I think he's had a good spring, I really do. His confidence is up and he's done some nice things'.” - Gator Zone

April 4, 2014 - punter Johnny Townsend has wrist surgery
"Johnny Townsend will miss the rest of the spring practice session after having surgery on his wrist. 'Johnny will miss his first spring game due to wrist surgery,' said father Clay Townsend in an e-mail to on Saturday. 'Coach released the info yesterday. ... He will be back in action [in] June.' Clay Townsend did now elaborate on the extent of the injury, directing inquiries to the Gators sports information office. Gators head coach Will Muschamp announced the news on Friday and told the UF-generated website GatorZone.com that Townsend will miss 'eight to 10 weeks. He’s going to be fine, it was wear and tear through the years there,' Muschamp told Gator Zone. 'I felt like we wanted to go ahead and put a pin in it'.” - Orlando Sentinel

February 13, 2014 - kicker Jorge Powell preferred walk-on
"Miami Belen Jesuit kicker Jorge Powell decided late Wednesday night to walk-on at UF instead of Penn State. He first committed to Tulane back in August but reopened his recruitment two months ago. Powell then pledged to the Nittany Lions on Jan. 25 during his visit to Happy Valley. 'The opportunity at Penn State and Florida were very similar as far as competition and the number of kickers they have,' said Richard Stuart, Powell’s coach. 'But being closer to home made it easier to go to Florida, and his father also graduated from UF.' Powell is ranked the No. 11 kicker nationally by Kohls Kicking and has a five-star rating. Another recruiting service, Kornblue Kicking, ranks him as the nation’s second-best kicker.
Last season Powell made 12-of-15 field goal attempts and 25-of-27 extra point tries." - Gator Sports

January 15, 2014 - special teams coach Coleman Hutzler returns
"Getting more points from placekickers and getting better field position from punters will be the priorities for new special-teams coach Coleman Hutzler, who returns to the Florida staff after coaching at New Mexico in 2012 and 2013. Hutzler was a defensive and special teams assistant for UF in 2010, Urban Meyer’s final season, and was retained by Will Muschamp when he took over as head coach in 2011." - Mayport Mirror

December 18, 2013 - kicker Brooks Abbott to transfer
"Virginia Tech sophomore kicker Brooks Abbott, who decided to transfer into UF next season. Abbott, a Jacksonville, FL-native who served as a kickoff specialist in 2012 and did not play in 2013, went 11-for-15 on field goals as a high school senior. He will join the Gators as a preferred walk-on next year and compete with redshirt sophomore Austin Hardin and redshirt senior Frankie Velez for the starting job." - Only Gators

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