Putting the Special in Special Teams

Every game begins with a special teams play and some of the most memorable games end with one. There are certainly some question marks associated with the Jaguars special teams groups, and there are a few players who could make an immediate impact.

The Jaguars special teams unit is in somewhat of a state of flux as special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis has departed for greener pastures in Dallas, and they have a new man in former Colts coordinator Russ Pernell.

With former fourth-round pick, punter Adam Podlesh seemingly wearing out his welcome with each low, line-drive punt, the Jaguars signed veteran journeyman Steve Weatherford to compete for the job. Weatherford was less than impressive at the end of last season as he finished with just a 43.6 yard gross average on 21 punts, and had just two kicks downed inside the 20.

The Jaguars may turn to the draft to find their punter of the future, and if they do, they'll look first to Graham Gano of Florida State. Jaguars scout Tim Mingey was in attendance at the Champs Sports Bowl where Gano earned MVP honors by killing three punts inside the three-yard line in the first half, which helped the FSU defense defend against the Wisconsin offense.

"I just tried to go out and do well and make my last game as a Seminole a memorable one for me, the rest of my family, and everybody, and hopefully I can keep kicking at the next level," Gano told JagNation following the game.

It's rare that a punter or kicker wins a bowl game MVP award, and aside from winning the MVP, Gano also got to cut out a piece of the football field to bring back to Tallahassee.

"That was pretty neat," Gano said. "It was a new experience but I have seen the guys do it in the past. I'll definitely never forget that moment. It was really exciting to go down there and cut the sod off. That'll be in the ‘sod cemetery;' I'll never forget that one."

Gano does more than just punt, although he did average nearly 42 yards per boot, as he is one of the very best kickers in the draft. As a senior, Gano made 24 of his 26 field goal attempts and is very capable of hitting from 50 yards with consistency. Gano received great praise from his head coach.

"Graham Gano is probably the most valuable player we've got right now," legendary FSU head coach Bobby Bowden said. "He's probably the most valuable player out there right now. If you've got to pick one of them you hate to lose the most, he'd be a pretty good place to start."

Gano earned first team All-ACC honors as a kicker in 2008 and honorable mention All-ACC honors as a punter. Gano won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's best kicker as a Senior, but was snubbed from the Senior Bowl a week ago.

"I would have liked to play in it," Gano said. "I was hoping to play in it since my senior year of high school."

Gano has seemed to recoup the somewhat lost art of placing punts in the "coffin corner," something that punters used to routinely do 15-20 years ago.

"It's all about angles, how your body is angled, how you drop the ball," Gano explained. It's all about practicing that stuff."

Gano is rated slightly higher as a kicker, but his ability to do both kick and punt is invaluable to NFL teams. Gano has plenty of length on his kickoffs and could save at least one or possibly two roster spots on a weekly basis for any NFL team.

"Hopefully I will get picked, that's what I'm hoping for," Gano said when asked about kicking or punting on the next level.

Right now, Gano is projected as a late-round pick.

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