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Georgia Tech Football: 2016 Position Previews - SPECIALISTS EDITION

Welcome to the position preview of the most important group: SPECIAILISTS. With all 3 starters returning can we expect All-American campaigns out of this group? I have no idea and you don't either.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Countdown to Ireland: TOO MANY

Today we take a good look at our all-important specialists. While most blogs ignore the kicking facets of special teams, we here at From The Rumble Seat know how important of a role these specialists play in the success of a team. From clutch kicks, to field position-changing punts, to not letting your last-second field goal get blocked and returned for a touchdown, these specialists make sure all of the above things happen (most of the time).

Who’s New

While there were no new additions on National Signing Day, the coaches have added walk on kicker Shea Underwood and long snapper Lucas Patelles. With senior kicker Harrison Butker a lock for the starting position, Underwood will likely redshirt and be utilized as a blocking dummy. Due to lack of depth at the long snapper position Patelles may even have a chance to play as a freshman.

Who’s Back

Harrison Butker and Ryan Rodwell both return to their final campaign on the Flats, both with 3 years of experience each. Redshirt sophomore Casey Wilson will look to keep his starting position at long snapper, where last year he won the job over then-redshirt senior Sean Tobin. Backup kicker Shawn Davis and punter Grant Aasen also return, both of which had good showings in the spring game.

Who’s Gone

The specialists lose two contributors this offseason: Sean Tobin to graduation and Trevor Stroebel to the graduate-transfer rule. Stroebel will graduate after the summer semester with a degree in Business Administration (assuming he passes). Afterwards, he plans to transfer to another school where he will have 2 years of eligibility remaining.

Additionally, Coach Ray Rychleski was relieved from his position as Special Teams Coordinator and replaced on the coaching staff by OL Coach Ron West. Special teams will be coached by committee, with Civil Engineering extraordinaire/special teams guru Tim McGrath working behind the scenes breaking down film and helping the coaching staff adapt new special teams strategies. McGrath has served as a staff assistant under Rychleski, and figures to play a bigger role with all special teams units this upcoming season.

What to Expect

With all three starters returning from last year with decent years, we can probably expect a similar performance out of the returning guys. Harrison Butker is coming off arguably his most solid campaign, where he went 10-14 on field goals, including a clutch 3-3 performance in the win against FSU. While he struggled early on in the Notre Dame game (let's not talk about this anymore), he bounced back and made 10-12 field goals over the remainder of the season. (1 was blocked -- but not returned for a touchdown, so.) Casey Wilson is reportedly in the best shape of his life and was less than 2 seconds off from breaking the school record in the forty-yard dash. Ryan Rodwell returns as the starting punter, but after a good showing by Grant Aasen in the spring game he may be pushed a little more this year.

Depth Chart

Position 1st String 2nd String 3rd String
Kicker Harrison Butker Shawn Davis Shea Underwood
Punter Ryan Rodwell Grant Aasen Go for it
Long Snapper Casey Wilson Lucas Patelles Go for it