Early Look 2010: Special Teams

An early peak at what the special teams players should look like heading into spring ball

Has Missouri ever been in the position of having such known quality returning specialists?  All-American junior-to-be PK Grant Ressel headlines a trio that comprises the key components of the top PAT/FG unit in history.  Ressel credits much of his success to junior-to-be long snapper Beau Brinkley and senior-to-be holder Forrest Shock.  Their returning back-ups, sophomore Brad Madison, and junior Brandon Gerau, are very capable, as well.

Ressel is the leading returning scorer in the Big 12 conference, with 117 points scored in 2009.  In 2009, he led the nation in FG% (96.3%), on 26-27 FGAs.  He was perfect (39-39) on PATs, and his combined kick percentage (98.5%) set a NCAA record.  His only miss all season was a 43 yard attempt in the rain against Nebraska.

In 2009, Ressel entered the season as the Tigers' back-up on kick-offs.  In that role, he handled 14 kick-offs, for an average of 64.1 yards.  This means that his average kick-off was fielded just inside the 6-yard line.  Ressel will be working on improving his leg strength during this off-season.

Junior-to-be punter Matt Grabner has competed with and pushed graduating senior punter Jake Harry in practice since last spring.  Grabner has good size (6'4", 200) and athleticism, and probably an even bigger leg than Harry, who leaves Missouri as the career leader in punting average.  In 2009, Grabner punted once, a 38 yarder that he dropped inside the opponent's twenty-yard line.  I've seen enough of Grabner in practice to know that Mizzou will experience little drop-off at this position. 

Senior-to-be Carl Gettis handled the punt return duties quite capably for the Tigers this past season.  In 2009, Gettis returned 22 punts for 156 yards, an average of 7.1 yds./return.  He's no Jeremy Maclin, but is very sure-handed, and made good decisions, as well.  In 2009, Gerau returned 3 punts for 22 yards, an average of 7.3 yds./return.  Whom will the Tigers audition for punt returner?

A number of players returned kick-offs in 2009.  Among those coming back for next season are senior Jasper Simmons (36 KORs, 22.6 yds./ret.), sophomore Kendial Lawrence (12 KORs, 18.2 yds./ret.), junior Wes Kemp (6 KORs, 22.7 yds./ret.), senior Munir Prince (3 KORs, 21.7 yds./ret.), junior Jerrell Jackson (3 KORs, 17.7 yds./ret.), Gettis (1 KOR, 18 yds.), and junior Trey Hobson (1 KOR, 8 yds).  No kick-off or punt returns for a TD.  Will someone emerge to provide that dimension in the return game for the Tigers next season?

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