We’ve reached the highest of holidays here at FTRS. The Specialists preview. No 100 days prior to kickoff is more important, none worthy of such adoration and adulation (assuming those are two different things, we’re doing the whole stream of consciousness thing, no editing, real journalism).
We know who our punter is. That much is certain. Our touchdown-throwing, missile-launching, bomb-dropping, B-29 of a football player: Pressley Harvin III.
You will speak no ill of him, or I will Liam Neesson’s your [Aerosmith] (warning - explicit language in the video). I have the Stinger Pass, you never know if I’ll be sitting within earshot. So behave.
Up next, we have the less reputable unit on the Yellow Jackets specialists room: the kickers.
Gone are Brenton King and Wesley Wells. King to Liberty, and no word on what Wells’ next step might be. Cliff Gandis is the only returning kicker listed on the roster, and will likely serve as the backup punter as well.
Incoming is Steven Verdisco, who I do not have enough brainpower to come up with a clever nickname for, and Jude Kelley. Both were preferred walk-ons for the 2020 recruiting class. Kohl’s Kicking ranked Verdisco higher than Kelley, but we all know better than to take rankings and prior history as the law when it comes to who gets trotted out on to the field come gametime. Honestly, your guess is as good as mine when it comes to who will start Game 1, whenever that might be. My gut says Gandis just because he’s been there longer and has had more time working with the snappers and timing of the college game compared to the slower snap-kick times seen in high school.
I was about to write about the long snappers, but then I realized I forgot KICKOFFS. Just like the coaching staff apparently did last year. From the 11/13 mailbag:
“Hello. You would think would be simple. You would also think we pay somebody a boat load of money to coach 10 young men to run down a field and tackle while one kicks a ball and tells them where to run to. Simplest solution? Kick it out of the back of the end zone. They have to start on the 25. Every time. Zero deviation. But no, WE ARE TIED FOR LAST PLACE IN THE COUNTRY ON TOUCHBACKS. I AM NOT JOKING. SCHOOLS WITH 10+xMORE TOUCHBACKS THAN US: LIBERTY, INDIANA, SAN DIEGO STATE, GEORGIA SOUTHERN, ILLINOIS, FIU, HAWAII, GEORGIA STATE, WYOMING, UAB, COLORADO STATE, MIAMI (OH), EAST CAROLINA. DO I MAKE MY POINT CLEAR? We are getting [Styx]-pumped on field position week in and week out because we hemorrhage yardage on kickoff coverage and kickoff return. Want a fix to your special team stomach aches? Find somebody that can put their foot through the ball. It doesn’t take having a Harrison Butker to kick a touchback. Hell, everybody but Missouri gets more touchbacks than we do IN THE ENTIRE FBS.”
I do not care if it is a line drive. You hit the back wall padding, and trot your defense out to the 25. If Tobias has to be the one to kick it there, I do not care. Just get it done. Have a tryout amongst the team just to make sure there isn’t somebody with a secret cannon for a leg. Hitting a consistent touchback will likely add 2-4 years to my lifespan. Do it for me if not for your own job security as a football coach employed by Georgia Tech.
Finally, the long snappers. Phil Steele has Cade Long listed as his second team All-ACC selection for his 2020 season preview. The fact that I did not know his name prior to “researching” for this article means that he did his job perfectly. Keep it up Cade. Jack Coco appears to be the backup here, with freshman Henry Freer rounding out the group. Shoutout Woodward Academy.
Let me know if the comments if you have any burning special teams opinions, I’m an open book.