Ohio State Spring Football Preview: Special Teams

Ohio State Spring Football Preview: Special Teams

Spring 2018

Ohio State Spring Football Preview: Special Teams


Spring practice has started in Columbus, and we are continuing our preview look at each position group at Ohio State. Last on the list is a look at the special teams units.


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2018 Spring Preview Sections

Spring Overview | The Quarterbacks | The Running Backs | Offensive Tackle | Center | Tight End | H-Back | Wide Receiver | If Tate Martell Is The QB | If Joe Burrow Is The QB | If Dwayne Haskins Is The QB | Defensive Tackle | Defensive End | Linebacker | Cornerback | Safety

Ohio State Spring Football Preview: Special Teams

Someone we all know and love once uttered the phrase, “the punt is the most important play in football.” That sweater vest may have come unraveled, but special teams can often turn elation into agony — and vice versa.

Urban Meyer so believes in the special teams units that he’s hands on with them despite all the places he could make his presence known.

Key Losses

The good news (depending on how you look at it), is that Ohio State returns its special teams generally intact from last year. Now, about those kick offs …

Returning Talent

Kickoffs

Blake Haubeil

As a freshman, Haubeil struggled mightily last year keeping the ball in bounds. Under Meyer, Ohio State likes to pin the ball into the corner in the field of play to pinch the return team in and gain a field position advantage. Haubeil had so many issues that he lost the gig to field goal kicker Sean Nuernberger. Hopefully a year of practice has gotten the yips out of the swing. He did have much more success at the tail-end of the season.

Sean Nuernberger

Nuernberger isn’t the natural fit here as long as Haubeil can keep the kicks between the guard rails, but if there’s an issue again, or if there’s an unfortunate injury, the senior will be ready to step in again.

Field Goals

Sean Nuernberger

Neurenberger is as automatic as they come with extra points, and he’s certainly above average with the three-pointers, but there were some consistency issues from long-range — going just 1 of 4 for field goal attempts beyond 40 yards. Still, he’ll be the unquestioned starter in charge of salvaging drives that stall in the opponent’s end.

Blake Haubeil

While Haubeil may get the nod for booting the ball down the field to give the ball to the other team, he’s a year away from getting a shake at the field goal duties. Nuernberger is a fifth-year senior, so look for Haubeil to be the likely heir to replace him in his junior year.

Punter

Drue Chrisman

Chrisman is the only true scholarship punter Ohio State has, so there’s little doubt who will be getting Jim Tressel to tune into Buckeye games this year. He still has two years of eligibility left, and was widely considered to be the best punter in the 2016 class.

Sean Nuernberger

There’s no truth to the rumor that Nuernberger will also be refilling the sideline Gatorade tubs this year, but it is true that he appears to be very well-versed in all things revolving around kicking the pigskin. Well, not really. He was listed as the backup punter last year, but he doesn’t really have much experience to speak aside from messing around in his backyard in Buckner, Kentucky. Still, he’ll be there if called upon.

jake metzer

Metzer transferred to Ohio State last summer as a walk-on and has two years of eligibility left. He’ll likely take the spot as the backup to Chrisman.

Punt Returner

Demario Mccall

Urban Meyer has gone on record with McCall getting a crack to be the return specialist. That doesn’t mean he’ll win the job without a challenge, but his skill set would fit the role well. And given the depth at receiver and running back, it might be the best way to utilize the 5-9, 193 lb. sophomore-to-be.

K.J. Hill

Hill was the main punt returner last year because he reportedly had the best hands for the job. He’ll get a lot of time at the H-back position, so perhaps the coaching staff would rather save him for that role. Either way, he could factor in some way depending on how well McCall does.

Kick Return

Demario Mccall

Same deal here. McCall is the guy that’ll return kicks as long as he doesn’t boot the job somehow, or face some adversity with injury.

Parris Campbell

Campbell was the main return man, and excelled in the spotlight until he got knocked out of a couple games because of a concussion. From there, the coaching staff decided to save him for the H-back position where his talents were more valuable. But, it might be too tantalizing not to plug him in back there from time to time with his game-breaking ability.

Incoming Freshman

Ohio State has several game-breaking freshman entering the fray this year at the skill positions, but there’s just not much room at running back or wide-receiver for them to break into the picture there. That being said, one of the elite freshman could get some time returning kicks. It could be any of the following:

Jaelen Gill, RB
L’Christian Smith, WR
Master Teague, RB
Kamryn Babb, WR
Brian Snead, RB
Cameron Brown, WR
Chris Olave, WR

Predicting the Pecking Order

Kickoffs

  1. Blake Haubeil
  2. Sean Nuernberger

Field Goals

  1. Sean Nuernberger
  2. Blake Haubeil

Punter

  1. Drue Chrisman
  2. Jake Metzer
  3. Sean Nuernberger

Punt Returns

  1. Demario McCall
  2. K.J. Hill

Kick Returns

  1. Demario McCall
  2. Parris Campbell
  3. Jaelen Gill *

* Freshman

 

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