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100 Days to Kickoff: Position Previews - Special Teams

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We’ve got a nice balance of returning and new guys here.

Florida State v Georgia Tech

Days to Kickoff: 40 Days

As the 100 Days to Kickoff series passes the midway point, this week will feature a series of position previews across the roster. These articles will go position-by-position to look at players that have departed, players that return from a year ago, new faces at the position, and the overall outlook for the 2017 season. The overall goal is to examine what the depth chart will look like next season and look at realistic expectations for each position group.


Departures

Gone from last season’s team are essentially half of the Yellow Jackets’ special teams. By that, I mean that we lost our kicker and punter in Harrison Butker and Ryan Rodwell, respectively. While looking at their career stats, there’s not a whole lot there, but each of them had pretty solid stats.

Butker made a career best 15-of-17 field goals (88.2 percent), while also nailing 54 of his 73 kickoffs for touchbacks. Rodwell fought for his job all season, but ended up having a quietly good season, averaging a career-high 43.1 yards per punt. Rodwell will also be missed as the team’s holder.

The Yellow Jackets also lose reserve punter Grant Aasen, who decided to forgo his senior season to enroll in seminary.

Returnees

Earlier I said the Yellow Jackets lost half of their special teams; that means that they also return half of the unit. They key guys I’m going to touch on here are the return men, JJ Green and Brad Stewart. I touched on them yesterday, so I won’t spend too much time here.

Last season, Stewart and Green were both pretty solid on their respective returns, and I fully expect them to at least continue as well as they were last year, but I think it’s reasonable to expect some improvement here.

Newcomers

Losing a kicker and punter in the same season is never a fun thing, because it means that you have to break in both of them in as freshmen at the same time.

Thankfully, the Yellow Jackets did a good job of bringing in replacements. They almost knocked it out of the park by bringing in Joseph Bulovas at kicker, but he ultimately spurned the Jackets in favor of Alabama. That spot was ultimately filled by Brenton King who, though less polished than Bulovas, is still a very solid kicker.

Joining King will be punter Pressley Harvin III, who is the size of a linebacker (6-0, 240 lbs.) and can kick it a mile.

Projected Depth Chart

Special Teams Depth Chart

Position First String Second String
Position First String Second String
Placekicker Brenton King Shawn Davis
Punter Pressley Harvin III
Kickoffs Brenton King Shawn Davis
Kick Returner J.J. Green Nate Cottrell
Punt Returner Brad Stewart Qua Searcy
Holder Pressley Harvin III
Long Snaper Casey Wilson Lucas Patelles

What to Expect

With having a freshman punter and kicker coming in, it’s safe to say that there will probably be some growing pains. I went ahead and put both of them in the starting lineup for the sole reason of I don’t believe they would have gotten scholarships if CPJ did not have the intention of starting them this year.

Outside of the growing pains of the freshmen, I expect the special teams to be pretty solid. With experience every where but the kicker and punter, it’s pretty easy to expect that the special teams are going to be pretty solid.

How do y’all think the special teams will be this season?