Spring Preview: Special Teams

The last installment of our spring preview series will focus on the specialists and what fans can expect this spring as well as into the fall. Read on to find out more…

The Players: Jr. Erik Folk (K); Sr. Will Mahan (P); Jr. Kiel Rasp (P); Jr. Devin Aguilar (PR); Jr. Johri Fogerson (KR/PR); Jr. Quinton Richardson (KR); So. James Johnson (KR); So. Chris Polk (KR); Jr. Jordan Polk (KR/PR); Fr. Jesse Callier (KR/PR); Fr. Deontae Cooper (KR/PR)

The Questions: Will Washington find a player who can consistently put the ball in the endzone on kickoffs? Can Washington get more out of their return teams this year?

Folk and Mahan were solid in 2009, but Washington could use some improvement from the former on kickoffs.

Too many times, Washington's opponents started past the 30 yard line and in order to be successful on defense, the Huskies need make the opposing offenses start inside their own 25. One component that should help with the coverage units is the added speed the new recruiting class promises to bring in. Expect young players like S Sean Parker, LB Princeton Fuimaono and S Taz Stevenson to add their speed and athleticism to the coverage units come fall.

However, Folk adding strength and getting more distance on his kickoffs will certainly help as well.

That being said, as a kicker, Folk couldn't have been much better hitting on 18 of his 21 attempts while nailing four of six from outside of 40 yards. Washington didn't try any kicks beyond 50 yards, so that is another area that should be rectified with a year of experience and added strength. His full-recovery (he struggled with that some last year) from a bad back will also be a huge key as well.

Mahan doesn't have a big leg, but he gets great hang-time and his directional punts were outstanding, allowing the coverage units to pin players deep in their own territory. Out of 52 punt, Mahan had only two touchbacks, 21 fair catches and 17 that were downed inside the 20. He also hit 10 punts for over 50 yards while finishing with a 40.6 yard per punt average.

This past recruiting class included one of the top kickers on the west coast until Alejandro Maldonado decided to de-commit and sign with Oregon the weekend before signing day. Because of that, Washington will definitely be in the market for, at the very least, a punter and likely a kicker as well so they can groom him as the heir apparent to Folk.

The return team could really benefit from the added speed and quickness from this past recruiting class as Callier and Cooper both will be given looks as returners. Aguilar has good hands, but he's not a dynamic return man. Both Chris and Jordan Polk have been given shots at returning and were solid, but neither scared teams much in that capacity.

Look for Richardson to get a long look again as a kick returner, but the coaches will not hesitate to get the best man out there to return kicks and punts regardless of whether they are starters or not.

Other position previews...

Spring Preview: Quarterbacks
Spring Preview: Offensive Line
Spring Preview: Running Backs
Spring Preview: Wide Receivers
Spring Preview: Tight Ends
Spring Preview: Defensive Line
Spring Preview: Linebackers
Spring Preview: Secondary

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