Continuing with the overarching theme this offseason, there were even departures within the special teams unit. First and foremost, three-year starting punter Sean Poole departs the team after four years of solid service where he averaged 40.4 yards per punt, with 37 punts dropped inside the 20 and 25 punts of 50 yards or more. Not only that, but he also brought an even more "offensive" element to the special teams game at times. (Except for that one time that we won't talk about any more.)
In addition (yes, there's more), kicker David Scully leaves the team after extensive service in 2011 and 2012 before taking more of a back seat to Harrison Butker in 2013. Scully was 4 of 9 in his career on field goals, but 41 of 43 on extra points.
The Jackets have not added any pieces on special teams since last year, with their two starters now being scholarship players with three years of eligibility remaining.
Projected Depth Chart
|Postion||First String||Second String|
|Placekicker||Harrison Butker (So)||Andrew Chau (R-Jr)|
|Kickoffs||Harrison Butker (So)||Ryan Rodwell (R-So)|
|Punter||Ryan Rodwell (R-So)||-|
Picking up where he left off last year, Harrison Butker will lead the charge on all placekicking and kickoff duties. As a freshman, Butker tied for second all-time at Georgia Tech with 53 extra points converted in a single season, with his only miss coming due to a bad snap in the Miami game. Additionally, he was 10 of 14 on field goals, with 5 of his made kicks coming from longer than 40 yards and his longest coming from 49 yards (twice, against Duke and Virginia Tech). Butker will be backed up by the future Heisman finalist and President-of-the-United-States-in-Training, Andrew Chau.
He'll be joined by a slimmed-down Ryan Rodwell, who saw action as a freshman in six games before redshirting last season. The word out of Tech's camp last year was that Sean Poole's success at punter were enough reason not to burn a year of eligibility, though there were also questions about Rodwell's physical conditioning. Now, Rodwell comes into the 2014 season reportedly "in the best shape of his life" and ready to make a difference. He arrived at Georgia Tech weighing around 220 pounds (pretty stout for a 6'1" frame), but has reportedly lost at least 30 pounds and is ready to be the go-to punter for the rest of his career at Georgia Tech. He should be a major difference maker for the Yellow Jackets -- something a lot of coaches can only hope to say about a guy who plays punter.
Though they're a relatively young bunch, this unit should be the most talented kicker/punter tandem at Georgia Tech in a number of years, and almost certainly in the Paul Johnson era. Both were top-rated recruits at their positions coming out of high school and have not disappointed in the action that they've seen so far. Now that they'll both be in the spotlight full-time, they'll be looking to prove that Paul Johnson wasn't making a mistake by spending scholarships on their positions.
And with the backing of Andrew Chau, this group is in perfect position to succeed.
What are your expectations for this unit? Will they be the best we've had under Johnson? How do you feel about both Butker and Rodwell being recruited, scholarship players? Can Chau overtake "Famous" Jameis Winston for the Heisman trophy?