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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Illinois Fighting Illini Kicker, Punter & Snapper News


September 26, 2015 - Taylor Zalewski kicks game winner over Middle Tennessee
"Taylor Zalewski watched David Reisner play the role of hero last season. The Illinois kicker can now share in a moment with his fellow kicker after Zalewski saved Illinois from a second straight loss. His 51-yard field goal with 2 minutes, 9 seconds left in the fourth quarter— the third field goal of at least 50 yards during the fifth-year senior’s career with the Illini — lifted Illinois to a 27-25 victory against Middle Tennessee. 'I didn’t feel any pressure,' said Zalewski, who started out his season making his first four field goals before missing his next three, including his first attempt on Saturday. 'I felt really calm, and I’m sure my pulse was really low. I just went out there, did my thing and whatever happened, happened.' Zalewski’s game-winner wasn’t quite as dramatic as the one Reisner made to beat Penn State last season. But important nonetheless. 'Dave’s a great guy on the sidelines,' Zalewski said. 'He’s always had my back. He had his moment last year, but we’re going to celebrate and enjoy the win'." - News Gazette

April 18, 2015 - spring game
"In the ever-evolving competition at kicker, Taylor Zalewski was 3-for-3 on field goals, connecting from 22, 27 and 49 yards. For the White team, David Reisner missed both his attempts on the day, including a potential game-tying attempt from 44 yards with 1:06 remaining."- Kansas City Star
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/article18891456.html#storylink=c

April 8, 2015 - kicking competition
Taylor Zalewski started the 2014 season handling all of the Illinois kicking duties outside of punting. That wasn’t the case once the season progressed, and Zalewski struggled with consistency before David Reisner eventually replaced him on field goals and extra points. But the senior from Orland Park appears to have emerged — so far — ahead of Reisner this spring in laying claim to the starting kicking job once again. He has had to adjust to a new holder — Ryan Frain replaces Justin DuVernois — along with increased scrutiny after Illinois struggled when it came to both field goals and extra points. The Illini only made 9 of 17 field goals last season and only 38 of 42 extra point attempts. 'It was a rough season,' Zalewski said. 'We were flipping the kickers every game, and we were missing some easy ones. Honestly, it was just an off year. We both know we can do better, and it’s going to be a much better year this year.' Beckman sure hopes so. 'It’s sporadic, and still not where I want it to be,' the Illinois coach said. 'We’ve got to be more consistent field-goal wise. Other than a couple misses (Wednesday), Taylor had a great day on Monday. We’ve got to have great days every day. We have been putting them through the most-missed field goals in the country, and those usually come from 35- to 47-yard range, so that’s all they’re getting. They’re getting the ones that are tough, but those are the ones we’ve got to have them make'." - The News-Gazette

March 16, 2015 - punting competition 
"Alex Golesh,the Illini running backs and tight ends coach, and recruiting and special teams coordinator, is spending this spring deciding how to replace the graduated Justin DuVernois. 'It’s a big concern for me,' he said. Competing to replace the four-year starter are juniors David Reisner, Ryan Frain and redshirt freshman Ryan Tucker. The trio have a combined one punt in an actual game in their careers, with Frain booting a 34-yarder last season. 'They’re flip-flopping every day,' Golesh said. 'Ryan Frain was brought in here to kick and punt and he needs to step up for us. He’s been on scholarship for three years and never started a game for us.' While those three have been competing in the first three practices of the spring, a fourth will join the fray once he’s healthy. Freshman backup quarterback Chayce Crouch was an all-state punter in high school and worked with the punters during his redshirt season last fall. He is currently a limited participant in practice with a hamstring injury that Golesh hopes will be fully healed once the team returns from spring break." - The Daily Illini 

November 22, 2014 - David Reisner kicks game winner over Penn State
"David Reisner said he had a dream Friday night that he would attempt four field goals against Penn State, but not even in his wildest dreams could he have imagined a moment like this - kicking the game-winning field goal with :08 left to lift Illinois to a 16-14 victory over the Nittany Lions. 'I went out there,' Reisner said. 'Coach Cubit lightened the mood up a little bit.  He was making some jokes, and I felt calm.  Calmer than I have ever been on a field goal.  It was nice that everybody believed in me, and I ended up making the kick.' But a happy ending wasn't always a foregone conclusion.  Reisner's first attempt at a go-ahead field goal from 50 yards out was wide left.  He says the reaction he got from his teammates when he got back to the sideline gave him the confidence to kick again. 'I came back to the sideline, and everybody was really uplifting,' he recalled. 'That really changed a lot of things.  That really reassured me that they had faith in me, and that was truly the most important thing'." - Illinois Homepage

November 5, 2014 - punter Justin DuVernois
"DuVernois has been one of the few bright spots for the Illini this season, leading the Big Ten with an average of 45.7 yards per punt — a career best that is on pace to be the best season by a punter in Illinois’ history. 'You’re roughly guaranteed a 40-yard punt,' special teams coordinator Tim Salem said. 'He’s had good distance, good hang, good direction: three things you definitely want to see.' The senior has had 16 punts longer than 50 yards this season, including five longer than 60 yards and a season-best of 74 yards.... He’s ranked ninth in average yards per punt (45.7) and has had the third-longest punt in the nation so far this year (74 yards). Out of punters who have kicked the ball away more than 50 times this season, DuVernois is ranked second in the nation." - The Daily Illini

October 25, 2014 - punter Justin DuVernois
"DuVernois continues to have an outstanding senior season for the University of Illinois football team. DuVernois averaged 48.7 yards on nine punts in Saturday's 28-24 homecoming win over Minnesota at Memorial Stadium. That included two 61-yard punts and a 59-yarder. He pinned the Gophers inside the 20 four times and inside the 10 twice. He entered the week second in the Big Ten with an average of 45.1 yards and of his 47 punts, 15 have traveled 50 yards or more. DuVernois is a senior from Plantation, Fla., and his average ranks second in school history behind Steve Weatherford’s 2004 season (45.4)." - Pantagraph

October 22, 2014 - the kickers
"David Reisner drilled the first and only field goal of his Illinois career with 3:08 left in the fourth-quarter comeback win over Texas State on Sept. 20. Almost five weeks later, Illinois still has not made another field goal. The sophomore walk-on replaced junior Taylor Zalewski as the starter after Zalewski missed two of three field-goal attempts and a PAT kick in the two weeks prior to Texas State. Two games later, though, Reisner also missed a PAT kick and had a 30-yarder blocked in a game against Purdue that the Illini were favored to win —and lost, 38-27.... Still, Zalewski and Reisner both said confidence in each other’s abilities has not wavered, despite the struggles. The kicking pair, also roommates, said errors have come down to poor, in-game execution but also that neither has had many opportunities to kick field goals. They have only attempted five. 'It’s not like we’re in a slump, and hitting bad balls all the time,' Zalewski said. 'We’re making a lot of kicks in practice.' Reisner added: “I think it’s all preparation. Doing everything right from the moment you wake up (on game day)'." - State Journal-Register

October 14, 2014 - mid-season report
"Illini punter Justin Duvernois leads the Big Ten in punting, averaging 44.8 yards per punt; however, Illinois has been forced to punt more times than nearly every team in the conference. The Illini are tied with Northwestern for 39 punts in the first seven games.... Illinois has struggled kicking field goals and converting point after attempts. The Illini have made just two field goals on five attempts this season, the worst in the conference. Kicker Taylor Zalewski was pulled in favor of David Reisner after failing to convert a PAT against Texas State, an act Reisner mimicked two weeks later against Purdue." - Daily Illini

September 23, 2014 - David Reisner takes over as starting kicker
"The job now belongs to David Reisner, coach Tim Beckman said during Tuesday's Big Ten teleconference. He will handle kickoffs, field goals and extra points Saturday at Nebraska. 'If we would go out and kick today, David would be our kicker,' Beckman said. Taylor Zalewski struggled through the first four games for the Illini (3-1). He kicked out of bounds on more than one kickoff, missed 2 of 3 field goal attempts and missed an extra point Saturday against Texas State.  The missed point-after was the last straw for Beckman. He pulled Zalewski in the first quarter for Reisner. Reisner, a sophomore walk-on from Bartlett, made a 19-yard field goal in the fourth quarter against the Bobcats. He also kicked off seven times, averaging 63.4 yards." - Chicago Tribune

June 25, 2014 - long snapper Zach Hirth
"The redshirt sophomore didn’t have any botched snaps or ones that sailed past the heads of his intended targets in any of his 111 snaps last season (51 punts, 40 extra point attempts, 17 field goals and three fake extra point attempts). Seems like he learned much during his redshirt season from Zak Pedersen, the former three-year starter at long snapper who Hirth replaced last season. Hirth will have a new holder to snap the ball to this year since Russell graduated. Early indiciations are either quarterback Reilly O’Toole or DuVernois will handle those chores." - The News-Gazette

April 12, 2014 - Orange vs. Blue spring game
Kicker David Reisner hit a 34 yard field goal on the final play of the first half. Justin DuVernois averaged 38.3 yards on seven punts, placing two inside the 20 yard line. Ryan Frain averaged 38.0 yards on four punts, placing one inside the 20 yard line. - Fighting Illini

March 21, 2014 - kicker Ryan Frain ends practice
"A long field goal by Ryan Frain that skipped off the cross bar before going through the uprights ended a spirited two-minute drill, sending the offense into a celebration at midfield to end practice." - Fighting Illini

March 7, 2014 - spring specialists
"Punter Justin DuVernois returns after a solid junior season, while Taylor Zalewski looks for a bit more consistency in his second full season as the placekicker. Zalewski made 12 of 17 field-goal attempts last fall." - ESPN

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