It’s another week closer to the 2017 season, and time for another unit preview. This week focuses on Special Teams, another critical part of a football team. Not often does anyone hear about a kicker, but when they do, it’s either for something incredible, or completely horrible.
Much of the special teams return from 2017, including kicker Blanton Creque, from Collins High School in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Creque earned the starting job last season, and played with consistency- making 16 of 19 field goals, with the longest ranging 47 yards. Creque also tied the school record for the number of field goals in a game, after making all four against NC State. Junior Evan O’Hara backs up Creque, after only making three of six in 2017.
Mason King will return as the holder and punter. The 6’3”, 211 lb. redshirt sophomore already set the school record for punting average in a season at 43.9 yards. He already showed that he can punt it deep, with 14 going for more than 50 yards, and 16 landing within the opposing team’s 20-yard line. The backup punter is Austin Johnson, a 6’2”, 202 lb. redshirt freshman from DeSales High School.
Snapping to King will be Mitch Hall, a 6’1”, 203 lb. freshman from Clayton, North Carolina. He was rated as a five-star recruit at Long Snapper, ranked as the No. 2 long snapper by Rubio Long Snapping and Chris Sailer Kicking. He snaps left-handed, which is rare for a long snapper. Backing him up is redshirt Junior Ryan Betlach, who has not seen much game action.
Preseason All-ACC CB Jaire Alexander will again field punts for the Cards, after averaging 9.95 yards per return over his first two seasons. His longest return was a 69-yard Touchdown last season. Backing him up is freshman cornerback Russ Yeast. Yeast ranked 231 on the Scout300 list, and is a four-star recruit from Greenwood, Indiana.
Returning Kickoffs will be Senior running back Malik Williams. Williams has shown promise on returns, taking 14 for a total of 315 yards. That is 22.5 yards per return. Backing him up is the 5’11” sophomore wide receiver Cornelius Sturghill. Sturghill has little experience returning, but will get some chances this year.
The special teams unit does bring back experience and talent. It should be a little better than last year, especially with Creque having another year of experience. Next week, River City Cards will break down the running backs, which features a void because of the departure of Brandon Radcliff. Stay tuned to River City Cards for more!