Spring Football Rewind: Special Teams

Another football position where “incomplete” may be the final spring grade, Terps special teams was another unit in flux last month.

Another football position where “incomplete” may be the final spring grade, Terps special teams was another unit in flux last month.

Sure, Lou Groza Award winner and all-around-great-Terp Brad Craddock was stellar this spring in camp, booting 50-yard field goals regularly in scrimmage situations, as well as one in the annual Red White Game on April 11. Craddock, who once spring ball ended was going to start seeing former Baltimore Ravens/Super Bowl champ kicker Matt Stover for more individual work in Baltimore, added even more hardware last month. He was honored by the D.C. Touchdown Club, at an event held at Congressional Country Club in Potomac, Md., as local college player of the year for 2014-15.

The rising senior Craddock has continued to work on all technical aspects of his game, as well as added some 8-10 pounds to see if that can get him more power/distance on his kickoffs, the one area he hopes to improve. Beyond that, everything is and has been stellar for the Terps team leader.

But it was his battery mates that needed a little more work this spring, what with his favorite holder, QB Caleb Rowe, on the shelf this spring still rehabbing his knee injury from last fall. In his place, freshman punter Nick Pritchard and freshman long snapper Nate Adams (who was filling in for injured starter Chris Carpenter) had some ups and downs, including a muff in the Red-White Game, as that tandem needed more work. Carpenter had off-season back surgery, but it expected back for the fall. Adams played some at the end of last season when Carpenter went down, and filled in admirably for a greenhorn.

Speaking of Pritchard, he and freshman Lee Shrader battled for the punting job last month, with Shrader appearing the better bet, at least for now.

Both have strong legs, are excellent workers, while Pritchard needs continued work on a low drop of his, and overall better footwork, while Shrader’s drop appeared high at times and he also still needs continued technical work. Each have powerful legs, and uncorked several 50-yarders in camp, but in gusty winds in the spring game Pritchard struggled into the wind, while Shrader was the only one to turn one over with distance that afternoon.

In the fall, another promising walk-on punter, Nick Rabinowicz out of Florida, will join the mix, so the Terps will have several quality options at the spot. Both Shrader and Rabinowicz are bigger guys, and can un-cork some bombs. More summer technique work is simply what they need.

The return game has stalwarts like Will Likely, Levern Jacobs, and Sean Davis (if need be) back, but last month in camp others like Will Ulmer and DeAndre Lane, among others, got long looks.

Ulmer, while a flashy athlete who can make people miss, is nowhere near where he needs to be with ball security, as he still requires more work snagging balls, while Lane, one of spring’s top overall revelations at receiver and returns, was solid and better with the hands. Taivon Jacobs, another speedy threat, sat out the spring with his knee rehab, but will be another that gets a long look in the fall.

The unit, as a while, introduced some new coaches, with several Terps taking on unit responsibilities, as well as new secondary coach Darrell Perkins, who will handle roles, too. Meanwhile, the heir apparent to Craddock – sophomore PK Adam Greene – looked like he is more than ready to ascend once Craddock graduates, booming 50-yarders of his own in camp, and in one scrimmage situation into a fierce wind. So that spot looks well covered for the future, while Greene is also the top student on the team.

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