Spring Preview: Special Teams

Miami has not had to replace both a kicker and punter in the same year since 2002, when Todd Sievers and Freddie Capshaw both graduated.

In stepped two young freshmen, Jon Peattie and Brian Monroe, to fill the huge special teams void. Four years later, it is Peattie and Monroe who are leaving, and another young duo must step in and take their place.

The kicker position at any level of football is a very fickle position. Kickers can go 10-12 and be considered amazing but go 8-12 and be considered mediocre. Therefore, it's hard to get a read on who will end up taking on the kicking duties for 2007. The early favorite however has to be Matt Bosher, the redshirt freshman from Jupiter, Florida. Bosher was a highly touted recruit, rated as the top kicker in the 2006 recruiting class. Bosher didn't see the field on 2006 despite shaky kicking by Peattie, partly because the staff didn't want to burn his redshirt.

The favorite for punting duties is Daren Daley. Daley transferred last spring from Florida State with three years of eligibility remaining. Daley punted four times for Miami in 2006, averaging 41.5 yards per punt as second team punter. He boasts a strong leg and may also handle the kickoff duties if necessary.

In the return game last season, Miami had a sub par year, not recording a single return for a touchdown. The ‘Canes had actually accumulated a significant streak in that category, but injuries, suspensions, and inconsistent play ended it this season. Their leading kick returner in 2006, Bruce Johnson, averaged only 21.6 yards per return, and averaged less than nine yards a pop on punts.

This spring, some new faces should emerge in the return game. Graig Cooper, the highly touted running back from Tennessee, will be expected to make an immediate impact. Bruce Johnson, though unspectacular and at times careless with the football, will return this spring. Ryan Hill, who handled the duties at times last season, will also be back. Unfortunately, Rashaun Jones, who at times looked like the most impressive returner, was kicked off the team for unspecified reasons.

Interestingly, Darnell Jenkins will return this season. While he has never posted amazing numbers as a returner, he was always careful with the football and rarely lost yardage. He has three years experience on kickoff returns, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him back there again.

In the fall, special teams will gain a significant boost when speedsters DeMarcus Van Dyke, Shawnbrey McNeal, and Lee Chambers arrive on campus. The spring however will give the current group of return candidates a much needed head start and a chance to show the coaches that last year's performance was a thing of the past.

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