NoleGameday

2016 Spring Preview: Special Teams

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Bold indicates a returning starter * = enrolled for spring

With Cason Beatty’s eligibility expired and Roberto Aguayo entering the 2016 NFL Draft, Florida State is left with a lot of question marks on special teams as spring practice approaches. Aguayo, who leaves Florida State as one of the most accurate kickers in NCAA history, provided stability at the kicker position for the past three years and Beatty was finally hitting his stride as punter as well. Luckily for the Seminoles, Jimbo Fisher is able to sell an NFL future to recruits and currently has two of the top kickers in the nation committed for the 2016 class.

Ricky Aguayo (#TBA) is the younger brother of Roberto and an early enrollee. During spring practice, he will compete with walk-on Kevin Robledo (#28) for the leg-up on the starting kicker job. Logan Tyler (#TBA) is also committed to Florida State, but will enroll this summer. Tyler is ranked as a kicker per most recruiting sites, but will likely compete with walk-on Jonathan Hernandez (#49) for the starting punter job. Starting long snapper Steven Gabbard (47) returns as well.

Unlike the specialist positions, Florida State returns a lot of talent at the kick/punt return positions. Jalen Ramsey is moving on to the NFL, but Kermit Whitfield (#8) will be back returning kicks for another season. In his final season with the Seminoles, Whitfield will look to return to his freshman form when he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, one in the national title game versus Auburn. Replacing Ramsey as the second kick returner will likely be either Travis Rudolph (#15) or Tarvarus McFadden (#15), both who have worked on second team kick return in the past.

While starting punt returner Bobo Wilson (#3) returns for his senior season, he will have some competition for the job. Sophomore Nyqwan Murray (#80) worked with the second team punt return unit last season and 5-star freshman Levonta Taylor (#TBA), who enrolls in the summer, will compete for the job right away as well. Tarvarus McFadden also returned punts in high school and will get a look at the position as well.

Florida State will enter 2016 with a lot more questions than it has had in previous seasons. While Ricky Aguayo should provide some competition at kicker in the spring, Jimbo Fisher will have to wait until summer to get a better look at the punter position. The variety of athletes on the roster should also provide for an exciting competition at the kick/punt return positions as well. So while 2016 might feature some freshman growth pains, the future of special teams looks bright at Florida State.

Dakota Moyer
Florida State student and writer for NoleGameday.

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