Cougs' kicking outlook comes into focus

ONE OF THE MOST heated battles on the Palouse this spring has been at kicker, where newcomers Patrick Rooney and Matt Myers have joined sophomore-to-be Wade Penner in a three-way fight to succeed Romeen Abdolmohammadi as the Cougars' No. 1 toe. With one day to go before the spring season is a wrap, special teams coach Steve Broussard says he has his man.

The situation isn't cast in stone, Broussard cautions, but says as of right now it's Rooney -- a walk on from El Camino Community College -- who will be No. 1 coming into fall camp. Penner is No.2 and Myers No. 3.

The battle, however, figures to be far from over. The competition this spring was tight. In fact, Thursday's practice illustrated just how close: Each of the three, on his final field goal attempt of the day, was perfect -– with room to spare –- from 49 yards out.


Adding intrigue to the competition is the fact head coach Paul Wulff reports he has lined up another junior college kicker to join the team this fall. He has yet to disclose the player's name.

Rooney played two years at El Camino, where his coach called him a "special talent." As a freshman in El Camino's 12-2 championship season of 2006, Rooney kicked off 71 times, averaging 57.6 yards per boot. Six of those kickoffs were touchbacks.

Throughout this spring, kickoffs appeared to be the part of the game where Rooney truly set himself apart. He's consistently been booting most balls roughly 65 yards, with solid hang time. Penner and Myers can equal the distance, but not as consistently and with less air time.

Penner, a freshman walk on last season, handled much of the Cougars' 2007 kickoff chores, while Abdolmohammadi had PAT and field goal duties.

THE COUGS DEVOTED a good portion of Thursday's practice time to special teams. The kick return unit showed several different looks at the returner spot, with Brandon Gibson lined up alongside Romeo Pellum, Daniel Blackledge lined up with Alfonso Jackson, and Chris Ivory getting reps with both Gibson and Blackledge.

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