Post-spring depth chart: Special teams

With spring practice in the books and the 2012 season rapidly approaching, GamecockAnthem takes a look at the 2012 post-spring depth chart and which incoming player is most likely to make an impact this fall. In part five of the five-part series, we take a look at the special teams.

Kickoff

1. Adam Yates –
This is going to be one of the battles to watch when Carolina opens fall camp. Yates shared the kicking duties with Landon Ard and this could be a battle that goes right down to opening week or it could be a battle decided very early. I give Yates the slight edge right now.

2. Landon Ard – This is a little guy with a big leg. There is no doubt he has a huge leg and can really hammer the ball. The question will be consistency when the lights come on. He did it in high school, but can he do it in college? Ard entered the spring as the number one guy, but I'm not quite sold on it yet. Time will tell.

Freshman most likely to make an impact:

Nick St. Germain –
There's a reason this kid was offered a scholarship as a kicker. Outside of perhaps Shaq Roland, there is not a freshman in this class that has a better chance of player right away than St. Germain. St. Germain averaged 68 yards per kickoff his senior season, and during his junior season made a 52-yard field goal and 54-yard field goal in the same game. Yates and Ard both better watch out.

Punt

1. Patrick Fish/Mike Williamson –
Who will win the job? Both punters have struggled with consistency. Just as was the case last season, this will be a huge area of concern entering the season. A good punter can be the difference in a close game. Carolina might not want to get into one of those type of games this season.

Kicker

1. Adam Yates –
Though it would have not counted in a real game, his 51-yard field goal had plenty of room to spare. This job is Yates' to lose.

2. Landon Ard – Again, Ard has a killer leg. Accuracy is the issue. He would miss a field goal that wasn't even close and then nail it the next time. If he can get some accuracy he could become a threat to Yates.

Freshman most likely to make an impact:

Nick St. Germain –
He made a 52-yard field goal and 54-yard field goal in the same game as a junior. That's enough to get him a look

Kick return

1. Bruce Ellington –
Like last season, Bruce Ellington will enter as the favorite to return kicks. While he did not break very many long returns, he was very solid and very rarely did Carolina start with the ball inside their own 20-yard line. While that may not seem like a big deal, that was a huge issue in prior years. Who will be back there with him?

2. Damiere Byrd – For whatever reason Byrd only had one return last season. I'm not sure how to explain why your fastest offensive weapon did not get a chance to return kicks. I would look for him to be back there, though D.J. Swearinger and Victor Hampton will both get strong looks back there. Hampton had the longest return last season of 55 yards.

Freshman most likely to make an impact:

Shaq Roland –
He's a playmaker. Why not give him another chance to make plays? He's got great hands and he can move. Don't be shocked if he doesn't at least earn a look.

Punt return

1. Ace Sanders –
He broke the long drought of a return for a touchdown in the season opener last season. Unfortunately he did not do much after that. Still, he has to be the favorite to return punts, especially with Stephon Gilmore heading to Buffalo.

Freshman most likely to make an impact:

Shaq Roland –
For the same reasons as he could get a look at returning kicks, Roland could get a look at returning punts. He can make people miss which is a big key to breaking a long return.


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