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Penn State Football: Position Preview: Special Teams

by on April 14, 2016 2:00 PM

Who's Gone:

This group is the same as it was last season, which is either a good or a bad thing depending on who you ask. Penn State's biggest issue hasn't been accumulating talent on special teams as much as getting it perform on a consistent level. That issue saw the Nittany Lions try two kickers, just about everyone that could punt and put Gregg Garrity back to return punts simply because he was the only one not fumbling in practice.

Who's Still Here:

Since nobody left that means everyone is back so that means Chris Gulla and Daniel Pasquariello working on their punts and Tyler Davis and the internet famous Joey Julius kicking field goals and kick offs respectively, at least at last check. Problem, as mentioned above is that nobody is doing anything at a high level a high percent of the time. Even Julius has been MIA at practices this spring as he deals with some undisclosed issues.

The good news is who will get here this summer, freshman kicker Alex Barbir and four-star punter Blake Gillikin. Both players will comes to Penn State on scholarship, meaning special teams will once again be bringing in higher end talent for the first time in years. A little change, but the fact four-star punters exist and Penn State is getting them is noteworthy. If the Nittany Lions are going to start turning the corner, it will happen with consistent special teams.

The return game is a bit up in the air, but the likes of Garrity, Koa Farmer, Andre Robinson and even maybe Miles Sanders are all good bets to do some work deep at the return spot. Don't forget the speedy Brandon Polk either.

What To Watch:

The question really is not if Barbir and Gillikin can start, it's a matter of how fast it can happen. That's not to say the rest of the crew doesn't have a chance, but they haven't exactly been short on chances to prove their worth.

The Short Version:

The reinforcements are coming, and that might mean you'll be safe in row 15 from any shanks coming your way on fourth down. if nothing else that's an improvement even if it doesn't equate to more wins.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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