Turel's Big 10 Pos. Rankings :Special Teams

In an upcoming issue of GoBlueWolverine the magazine, Josh Turel ranks the top players at each position in the Big Ten. These preseason forecasts are subject to change, but here is his outlook in things heading into the 2006 season. In this segment, Turel breaks down the Special Teams. Ohio State's Ted Ginn gets the nod as the top return man, while Iowa's Kyle Schlicher is the top kicker.

Kicker
#1-Kyle Schlicher-Senior-Iowa
#2-Garrett Rivas-Senior-Michigan
#3-Kevin Kelly-Sophomore-Penn State
#4-Taylor Mehlhaff-Junior-Wisconsin
#5-Jason Reda-Junior-Illinois

Also Watch For
Ryan Pretorius, Ohio State
Joel Monroe, Minnesota
Joel Howells, Northwestern

Just as conference loses one of the its all-time great kickers in former Iowa standout Nate Kaeding, another is emerging in Hawkeyeland by the name of Kyle Schlicher. In 2005 Schlicher connected on 17 of his 21 attempts, showing off great range in the process.

Michigan’s Garrett Rivas needs to clean up his extra point kicking in his fourth year as a starter. Last season Rivas was 19 of 26 attempts and should have a very solid senior campaign.

Penn State sophomore Kevin Kelly had a solid first year for the Nittany Lions, hitting on 16 of 23 field goals including a game winner against Florida State.

Wisconsin’s Taylor Mehlhaff is an up and coming kicker. Although he missed all three of his attempts outside of 50 yards, he did connect on four of his six attempts between 40 and 49 yards, and was 14 of 20 overall on the year.

Jason Reda gets the number five spot but still needs to make some strides this year. Reda was 13 of 20 on field goal tries last season, but could be relegated to be used more on kickoffs this season if his accuracy doesn’t improve.


Punter
#1-Ken DeBauche-Junior-Wisconsin
#2-Brandon Fields-Senior-Michigan State
#3-Jeremy Kapinos-Senior-Penn State
#4-A.J. Trapasso-Sophomore-Ohio State
#5-Tyson Beattie-Senior-Indiana

Also Watch For
Zoltan Mesko, Michigan
Andy Fenstermaker, Iowa
Justin Kucek, Minnesota

Wisconsin’s Ken DeBauche is not only the best punter in the Big Ten, he may be the best in the nation. DeBauche averaged 44.8 yards per punt last season and excels at pinning teams inside the 20. Look for him to be a candidate for the Ray Guy award this year.

Michigan State’s Brandon Fields is a veteran punter in the league, but he can be a bit inconsistent at times. Still, he averaged a solid 41.6 yards per punt last season.

Penn State’s Jeremy Kapinos comes in at #3. He does his best work putting the ball inside the opponents 20 and boasted an average of 41.3 yards per punt in 2005.

Sophomore punter AJ Trapasso did a decent job in his first year of punting for the Buckeyes and comes in at #4. He averaged 40.4 yards per punt in 2005, and expect him to be even more consistent this season.

The final spot in the rankings goes to Indiana’s Tyson Beattie. He was asked to punt a whooping 75 times last year, and still managed to average 41.6 yards per punt.


Return Man
#1-Ted Ginn Jr.-Junior-Ohio State
#2-Steve Breaston-Senior-Michigan
#3-Derrick Williams-Sophomore-Penn State
#4-Marquice Cole-Senior-Northwestern
#5-Dorien Bryant-Junior-Purdue

Also Watch For
Justin King, Penn State
Pierre Thomas, Illinois
Lance Bennett, Indiana
Demond Williams, Michigan State

Ohio State’s Ted Ginn takes over as the nation’s most electric return man now that Reggie Bush is gone. Ginn has returned five punts and a kickoff for touchdowns in just two years and will likely add to that total in 2006. If he gets his hands on the ball, watch out.

Michigan’s Steve Breaston is an explosive return man as well. Breaston averaged over 12 yards on punt returns and 28 yards on kickoffs, including one touchdown. He could be the number one guy in some of the country’s other conferences. However, the same could be said for Penn State’s Derrick Williams. The former #1 recruit in the nation is a big play waiting to happen and should be very productive (along with teammate Justin King) on kickoffs.

Northwestern’s Marquice Cole is a playmaking return man as well. He only had eight punt returns last year, but totaled 216 yards (27 yard average) and a touchdown. Expect him to also get a look at kickoff returns this year.

Rounding out the list is Purdue’s Dorien Bryant. The Boilermaker junior was a standout kickoff returner for Joe Tiller, averaging 23.8 yards a return and also cashed in with a touchdown.


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