Who will score points for your team? Hopefully it’s your offense, but just in case they can’t, your kicker better be ready. We continue our Preseason Position Previews by switching to special teams. Up next: kickers. We use the same categories as before: Room for Improvement, Wait and See, Second Tier, and Elite.
“Room for Improvement” means exactly what you think, this team needs to get better or maybe has one returner or two but a lot of questions behind them.
“Wait and See” are teams that we’re not sold on, but have the talent or experience to be good. These teams just need time to get their players up to speed during fall camp/beginning of the season.
“Second Tier” are for teams that return valuable experience, but the depth behind them is questionable, and an injury to one or two starters could spell trouble.
“Elite” will be the top teams who have all-conference talent, and also have depth behind that talent who can step in should an injury occur.
1. Temple: Austin Jones was the starter in 2016 until a knee injury ended his season, and Aaron Boumerhi took over. Jones started 29-for-30 on PAT’s and 15-for-17 on field goals while Boumerhi finished the season 23-for-23 on PAT’s and 10-for-12 on field goals. There will be good competition between the two in the fall.
2. Tulsa: Redford Jones was automatic with extra points, going 67-for-67, and nearly the same with field goals under 40 yards, going 17-for-18. Once you start moving him past 40 yards, to accuracy started to fade, as he went 4-for-8 on such tries.
3.Navy: Bennett Moehring mostly kicked extra points last year, but with the offense in limbo for now, he may be called upon to kick more field goals. The junior was 65-for-68 on PAT’s and 8-for-10 on field goals in 2016.
4. USF: At 5’6” and 173 pounds, Emilio Nadelman may be the least intimidating player on the field, but luckily he doesn’t have to hit anything but the ball. And he does so with outstanding accuracy, going 52-for-53 on extra points and 7-for-7 on fields goals.
5. UCF: Matthew Wright has the accuracy to drill anything inside of 40 yards as he went 39-for-41 on PAT’s and 8-for-9 on field goals within that range. Anything above that range is where is accuracy slightly dips, as he went 9-for-13, but he does have the range to hit up to 50 yards.
Wait And See
6. Memphis: Jake Elliott was one of the best kickers in college football, but now he’s in the NFL and the job is open. Incoming freshman Riley Patterson may be next in line for the Tigers, but coach Mike Norvell will provide plenty of competition in the fall. Is Patterson the next as one of the great Tigers kickers? We think so.
7. ECU: Sophomore Jake Verity was sold in his role as the backup kicker, making all but one of his kicks. Now that Davis Plowman is gone, he should be able to secure the starting spot.
8. SMU: Josh Williams had no troubles making extra points, finishing a perfect 38-for-38, but field goals were difficult for him. He ended the year 17-for-22, and will need to improve upon his accuracy in case the offense stalls.
9. Cincinnati: Josh Pasley’s 2016 season did not get off to a good start with a missed field goal and extra point in the opener, and his accuracy came into question multiple times throughout the year. Pasley finished the year 17-for-20 on PAT’s and just 11-for-17 on field goals, and should expect some pressure from Andrew Gantz, who drilled all eight of his kicks last year and was the starter the two previous years as well.
10. Houston: Dalton Witherspoon, Caden Novikoff, and Luke Hogan all made PAT’s in the spring game, going a combined 4-for4. Whoever wins the job has big shoes to fill, as they follow in the footsteps of the reliable Ty Cummings. With so much uncertainty, it’s tough to judge the Cougars at this position.
11. UConn: Will Rishell took advantage of an injury to Michael Tarbutt in the spring, and the Huskies should take a long look at both in the fall. Tarbutt did not practice in spring ball, so coach Randy Edsall wasn’t able to evaluate him.
12. Tulane: Randy Harvey had one kick last year, and Tulane is hoping that he can be more accurate on field goals than his predecessor. Andrew DiRocco went 10-for-16 on field goals last year, include 4-for-8 from 40+, which means there is only room for improvement at this position now that he’s gone.