Unit in review: Special Teams

Posted: December 28, 2015 in Football
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The 2015 season is over and as the team prepares for the off-season, I’m going to go through each position and evaluate the group to see how they did during the season. I will also do a little look ahead of how the unit could look entering the spring. Let’s start with special teams. 

Punter: 

Mattias Ciabatti – 6′ 200 lbs. – Senior – Ciabatti punted the ball 57 times in 2015, averaging 43.2 yards per punt and had a long of 68 yards. He landed 19 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and 15 kicks that went over 50 yards. He missed the bowl game due to missing curfew.

Emilio Nadelman – 5’6″ 173 lbs. – Sophomore – Nadelman was listed as the number two all year on the depth chart.

Bretn Gordon – Freshman – 6’3″ 190 lbs. – Gordon punted 7 times in the final game, averaging 39.4 yards per kick and had a long of 44. He landed 1 inside the opponent’s 20-yard line during the bowl game.

Place kicker: 

Emilio Nadelman – Nadelman was 15 for 23 in field goal attempts this year, hitting a long of 49 yards. He was also 53 for 54 in extra point attempts. He kicked off 20 times, averaging 56.7 yards per kick and totaled 5 touchbacks and 2 out-of-bounds.

Michael Hill – 5’9″ 180 lbs. – Senior – Hill kicked off 61 times this season, averaging 56.7 yards per kick. He had 2 touchbacks and landed 2 out of bounds.

Holder: 

Mattias Ciabatti

Alex Mut – 6’3″ 195 lbs. – Junior

Long snapper: 

Alex Salvato – 5’11” 200 lbs. – Junior

Dylan Rutledge – 6’3″ 245 lbs. – Junior

Kick return: 

D’Ernest Johnson – 5’10” 208 lbs. – Sophomore – Johnson returned 21 kicks this year, totaling 563 total yards (26.8 yards per return).

Rodney Adams – 6’1″ 190 lbs. – Junior – Adams returned 16 kicks for 466 yards total (29.1 yards per return) and scored 1 touchdown.

Note that Tyre McCants had 2 returns for 43 yards, Tye Turner had 1 for 17 yards, and Daniel Awoleke had 1 for 4 yards.

Punt return: 

Tajee Fullwood – 6’2″ 195 lbs. – Sophomore- Fullwood returned 19 punts for 198 total yards (10.4 yards per return).

Jordan Reed – 5’10” 170 lbs. – Freshman – Reed had 1 return for 6 yards.

Note that D’Ernest Johnson had 1 return for 25 yards as well.

Rest of the roster: 

Kicker: Jordan Acham – 5’11” 202 lbs. – Sophomore – Acham is a transfer from Stetson.

Punter: Mike Ruggles – 6’6″ 210 lbs. – Junior

Long snapper: Jimmy Hinck – 6’2″ 230 lbs. – Freshman – Hinck played in one game this season, at Central Florida.

2015 in review: 

The special teams unit had some ups and downs during the year. Mattias Ciabatti had a strong season but missed the bowl game, putting a bit of a damper at the end of a great career. Emilio Nadelman frustrated many with the misses, but came through late in the year and proved to be solid enough (what other options did we have?). The big spark on the unit came in the return game as Adams and Johnson showed their skills, but it was Fullwood who really sparked the return units and nearly broke several returns for touchdowns.

Look ahead to 2016: 

The special teams unit has a big hole to fill with Ciabatti leaving (graduated). He has been Mr. Reliable for the past few seasons and the unit will have to find the next man. The Bulls have several options on the active roster to look at for that job starting with Brent Gordon who took over in the bowl game. At kicker, Nadelman will return. Hill does leave, which means the kickoff job could be open, but again, Nadelman or one of the players on the roster could fill the void heading into next year. Salvato returns as the long snapper and the primary kick return and punt return men are back as well. Aside from Ciabatti, the special teams unit should return most of its role players next year and should be solid enough in 2016.

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