Welcome to the final Way-too-Early position preview presented by From the Rumble Seat. Today, we will preview the most important group of any football team: THE SPECIALISTS
It never seemed like luck was with the Tech throughout the 2015 season and special teams were no exception.There were two long returns were given up vs Duke in a 14 point loss, a few important missed field goals in tight games, and some inopportune bad snaps in horrid weather. Tech also only averaged 9.4 yds and 19.0 yds per punt and kickoff return respectively. While all of this may seem pretty bad, there were a few good things. Junior Harrison Butker earned a "Stars of the Week" from the prestigious Lou Groza committee for his three field goal performance against FSU, including a 53 yarder (fun fact: he’s 2-2 from that range) and a huge 35 yarder with a minute left to tie the game. Tech also averaged 78 yards on blocked field goal returns.
Fan favorites redshirt senior Sean Tobin and Jamal Golden are gone, after 5 long years on the Flats. Tobin filled in admirably in 2011 as a true freshman, redshirted in 2012, and played in most games from 2013 to 2015.
Golden as we all know had a tremendous breakout year in 2012 as a return man, where he broke a 13 year old kickoff return touchdown drought. Unfortunately he missed most of the 2013 season due to injury, and struggled to get much going in 2014 and 2015.
In addition to these two players, we also lose Coach Ray Rychleski whose contract was not renewed at the end of the season. On the bright side, Special Team Quality Control Coach Timothy "Bloodbath" McGrath will return to the Flats.
As of right this moment there have been no offers extended to a kicker, punter, or long snapper but it’s not unheard of for specialists to receive offers after signing day. Given that Tech returns long snappers Casey Wilson and Trevor Stroebel, holder and punter dude Ryan Rodwell, and Harrison Butker it is unlikely that we will see anyone new at any of these positions next year.
For the return game, expect to see Qua Searcy at both punt and kickoff return positions where he served as backup to Jamal Golden before his season ending injury. Upcoming sophomores Brad Stewart and Marcus Marshall could see some time in the return game, but a greater role on offense may cause special teams to be an afterthought for these two.
Depth Chart Breakdown
|Position||1st String||2nd String|
|Kicker||Harrison Butker||Shawn Davis|
|Punter||Ryan Rodwell||winner of coin flip b/t Shawn Davis and Grant Aasen|
|Long Snapper||Casey Wilson||Trevor Stroebel|
|Holder||Ryan Rodwell||Harrison Butker holds for himself|
|Punt Returner||Qua Searcy||Brad Stewart|
|Kickoff Returner||Qua Searcy||Marcus Marshall|
|Blocked Field Goal Return Man||Lance Austin|
Hope you enjoyed these Way-too-Early previews and WHAT AN ENDING