By Scott Wright
The Sporting News Magazine released a national ranking of college football teams by position in its latest issue, selecting Oklahoma State’s special teams as the best in the country.
Florida, Virginia Tech, Arizona State and Clemson finished out the top five, as selected by the magazine’s Matt Hayes.
Looking strictly at production, it’s hard to compete with the combination OSU has in the return game and at placekicker. Dez Bryant and Perrish Cox had two return touchdowns apiece last year — Bryant on punts and Cox on kickoffs — and both were strong in return averages as well.
Kicker Dan Bailey missed only once inside of 40 yards and only twice inside of 50, finishing 15-of-19 overall while nailing all 65 point-after tries.
Talk to any coach in the Big 12 about special teams coverage units, and the Cowboys are guaranteed to come up as some of the best around.
There will be two points of interest in the special teams game this season for the Pokes: a new punter and a new holder.
Technically, they’ll have half a new deep snapper, but Marc Yerry was solid on punt snaps last year, so you should expect nothing less when he adds field goal snapping to his duties this season following Zach Allen’s graduation.
But redshirt freshman punter Quinn Sharp has the task of replacing Ray Guy Award winner Matt Fodge, who had all the tools a punter could hope for.
Fans seemed to offer mixed reviews of Sharp’s performance in the Orange-White game, but I thought he was solid. He boomed a couple, shanked one, and killed another short one inside the 20. His average was solid and I think he’ll show off a big leg at times this year. He’ll have moments of inconsistency, but that’s to be expected.
Placement holder will be a different animal. In fact, there’s no real telling who will be holding this fall as special teams coordinator Joe DeForest tries to replace Fodge at yet another spot. Several players have been given a chance, including walk-on running back Taylor Sokolosky and a few others. Bo Bowling was a backup holder last year, but that’s in jeopardy with his suspension pending the result of his trial on drug charges later this year.
Holder is the last spot on special teams that anyone generally thinks about, and most people only notice who the holder is when he screws up. But it’ll be a position battle worth keeping an eye on in August.