For the first time in a long time Texas will have an entirely new group of players handling kicking and punting duties.
After a long line of successful kickers that included the likes of Ryan Bailey, Hunter Lawrence and most recently Justin Tucker, the torch will now be passed to a young group of players that will all be in burnt orange for the first time in 2012.
The initial depth chart lists true freshman Nick Jordan as the starting place-kicker, a position many thought was all but sewn up by Penn State transfer Anthony Fera. After re-aggravating a groin injury, Fera has quickly become an afterthought in the kicking department. At Coppell High School Jordan became an Army All-American and he seems to have carried over that momentum to the 40 Acres. Jordan has been tabbed as having one of the strongest legs in the 2012 class, and while he has yet to log any statistics as a Longhorn, he’s doing something right if he has already won the starting job.
It will be tough to replace the numbers that Tucker put up last year when he nailed 44 of 44 PATs and hit 17 of 21 field goals. There may be some growing pains with Jordan at kicker, but if he can learn from his mistakes early in his career he certainly has the ability to become the next great Texas kicker.
Another true freshman in Nick Rose will be tasked with kickoffs this season. If there’s one area Texas could use serious improvement it is the kickoff department. Last season Justin Tucker kicked off 70 times and recorded just 12 touchbacks. While it is a stretch to expect a touchback every kickoff, the ratio could use a boost.
That’s where Rose comes in to play.
In his senior season at Highland Park High School, Rose kicked off 87 times resulting in 48 touchbacks. I don’t have to do the math for you, that’s pretty damn good. If he can carry over those numbers as a Longhorn he will have no problem settling in as a kickoff specialist.
Like many kickers Rose also dabbles in the punting game, but for now he will only have to concern himself with kicking as he is listed as Jordan’s backup at place-kicker.
The third new face on special teams is Alex King, the new starting punter for the Longhorns. King joins Texas this season after spending the past four years with the Duke Blue Devils. During his career at Duke, King appeared in 24 games and punted a total of 111 times. His 41.38 career average ranks fourth-best in Duke history. King brings needed experience to the position and a fruitful leg to boot. In 2011, 17 of his 50 punts landed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, something that could prove to be an asset to this year’s Texas team. If King can continue to pin opponents’ inside their own half, he could become a good friend of the Longhorns’ defense, who will be chomping at the bit to score a few touchdowns of their own.