Spring Camp Preview: Special Teams

Spring Camp kicks-off today. Time to take a look at the Beavers special teams unit this spring.

The Beavers appear set on special teams entering spring ball, for the most part. They return a solid punter in Nick Porebski, and Jordan Choukair finished last season as the Beavers’ field-goal kicker. But they will be looking for more consistency in the field goal kicking area. Honestly, the Beavers biggest loss on special teams was Victor Bolden, who was a homerun threat, especially on kickoffs. So, who will get looks at returner this spring?

Key departures

  • Garrett Owens (transferred to Iowa State as a grad transfer): Converted 10-of-17 attempts last season, before losing his field goal kicking duties to Choukair. Handled extra point attempts for OSU all season, making 37 of 38.
  • Victor Bolden (graduated): Returned both kickoffs and punts last season, excelling on kickoffs. Returned 27 punts for 642 yards (23.8 yards per kick), including a 99-yard touchdown.

Key returners

  • Nick Porebski (senior): Averaged 41.3 yards per punt last season, including seven that went 50+ yards. His long was 66 yards.
  • Jordan Choukair (sophomore): Took over field-goal kicking duties late in the season, and converted his only attempt, which was under 30 yards.
  • Adley Rutschman (sophomore): Responsible for kick-offs last season as a true freshman. Catcher for the Beaver baseball team this spring.

 

What to Watch For

Who will return kicks this spring. After Bolden, Jaylynn Bailey (3), Art Pierce (2), and Paul Lucas (2), were next up for Beavers last year. Lucas has since transferred. Trevon Bradford had one return and he could be primed for a big role on special teams in 2017. He’s a great athlete who reminds some of Sammie Stroughter, who was no slouch as a return guy, especially on punts. In fact, Bradford will probably be OSU’s first choice to return punts. Kickoffs are another story.

While Porebski’s job is about as safe as can be, it will be interesting to see if any of the Beavers’ other three placekickers can challenge Choukair. We all know Adley Rutschman has a big leg, but his future is on the diamond. I’ve heard good things about Zach Standish and Daniel Rodriguez, so who knows? The Beavers must convert more field goals this season (only 58 percent in 2016) somehow, some way, no matter who the kicker is.

Final Take

Field goals were an adventure for the Beavers the past two seasons. So, stability in the kicking game is desperately needed this season, especially when points have been at premium those two years. That’s why it will be interesting to see if there’s strong competition at kicker this spring, because the Beavers really need the best man to emerge, maybe even more so than a Bolden-like returner.


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