We’ll conclude our review of UW’s position groups at the (sort of) halfway point of spring practice with a look at the special teams.
It’s not going to be a real exhaustive review, though, since not much has been settled yet in this area.
For one, determining who the returners will be won’t really happen until the fall, when all of the true freshmen arrive. For another, a couple of other key special teamers were not with the team in the first six practices — true freshman kicker Cameron Van Winkle, who is expected to enroll and be available the rest of the way; and returning deep snapper Ryan Masel, who is not participating in spring ball but will be back for the fall.
Van Winkle is expected to become an immediate contender for at least the kickoff job, if not more, competing with returning starter Travis Coons. Coons, recall, handled all kicking duties — field goal/PAT, kickoffs and punts — the last 10 games of the 2012 season, something the Huskies want to avoid this season.
Coons is back and has been the No. 1 field goal kicker through the first six spring practices.
Also back is Korey Durkee, who was the starting punter for the first three games of 2012 before losing the job to Coons. It’s way too early at this point to tell what will happen there — and it’s also worth noting there isn’t much live kicking in spring practices (which is not to say the kickers don’t get a lot of work, just that they don’t really do much 11-on-11 punting or kicking off). But undoubtedly UW coaches hope Durkee can make a real run at the punting job again this year.
With Masel gone, tight end Evan Hudson has been the primary snapper so far this spring, and at the least he will get a lot of work to make coaches comfortable in his ability to be the backup if he doesn’t end up contending for the job.
Also new to the field goal team in the spring is holder Thomas Vincent, who has taken over for Cody Bruns, who graduated after handling the job last season.
As for the returners, every player who handled a punt or kickoff return last year is back, other than Bruns, led by Jaydon Mickens (team-high 17 kick returns) and Marvin Hall (16 kick returns, six punt returns). Throw in other veterans with returning experience such as Greg Ducre and Kevin Smith, and incoming freshmen such as John Ross, and there will be no shortage of candidates in the fall for those jobs. But also don’t expect any real clarity to those spots until the fall.