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NoleGameday

2019 Spring Practice Focus: Special Teams

Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire

This is another installment of NoleGameday’s spring practice focus on the Florida State football team. The Seminoles are set to kick off their spring practice slate on Monday, March 4 at 9 a.m., culminating with the annual Garnet & Gold game at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 6. We’ll be breaking down each position on offense and defense while also highlighting the special teams unit leading up to the first day of practice. This piece will focus on the special teams unit.

Previous spring practice focuses:

– Quarterbacks

– Running Backs

– Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

– Offensive Line

– Defensive Backs

FSU’s special teams have had struggles the last few years, but there were definitely bright spots to the 2018 season. FSU had their first punt return TD in many years, but FSU’s special teams’ efficiency was one of the worst in 2018, leading to FSU letting go of special teams’ coach Alonzo Hampton. FSU’s special teams need to eliminate penalties and be more efficient in the kicking game in 2019. FSU will look to senior leaders Ricky Aguayo and Logan Tyler to turn around the unit.

Departures:

LS Ken Burnham, Redshirt Senior

Ken Burnham handled all of FSU’s long snapping duties on extra points and field goals in his red-shirt senior season. FSU didn’t have any mishandled snaps on kicks in the 2018 season. FSU will be looking for a new FG long snapper in 2019.

Returnees:

K Ricky Aguayo, Senior

P/H/KOS Logan Tyler, Senior

LS Grant Glennon, Sophomore

PR DJ Matthews

KR Anthony Grant

KR Keyshawn Helton

KR Khalan Laborn

Ricky Aguayo has been FSU’s placekicker ever since the day he stepped onto FSU’s campus, replacing his brother Roberto Aguayo. Last year, Aguayo had his worst season at FSU, making just 65% of his FG’s, but hit a career-long 53-yard FG against Miami. Aguayo will be in a battle with freshman Ryan Fitzgerald in the summer and fall, once Fitzgerald is on campus. Logan Tyler is also entering his senior season at FSU, coming off his best season at FSU. Tyler punted many more times than the fan base wanted to, but he did a good job, punting 82 times for an average of 43.2 yards. Tyler is also the holder for all the FG’s and XP’s, and he handled every chance in the 2018 season. Tyler’s final responsibility was kickoffs, kicking for a touchback 72% of the time. Long snapper Grant Glennon handled all the snaps on punt situations in his freshman season out of Lincoln high school. Glennon should be the lead candidate to replace Burnham in the kicking game.

DJ Matthews was FSU’s primary and only punt returner in the 2019 season and was electric for the most part. Matthews averaged 13.5 yards per return. Matthews had some big returns taken back due to penalties, but he showed the explosiveness that he possesses in the return game. Matthews highlight return of the season came on a 74-yard punt return TD vs. Miami. FSU has many candidates to take over the kick return duties, but Anthony Grant, Keyshawn Helton, and Khalan Laborn will be the frontrunners. In 2018, Grant returned 11 kicks for an average of 22.5 yards,  Helton returned 9 kicks with an average of 21.8 yards, and Laborn averaged 21.3 yards on 3 returns before getting injured.

Newcomers: 

None

FSU has no new ST recruits or transfers joining the team in the spring, but highly touted kicker Ryan Fitzgerald will be joining the team for the 2019 season. Fitzgerald will battle it out with Aguayo for the starting kicking job once he steps on campus. Fitzgerald made a long of a 57-yard field goal while going 22/27 in his senior season. A few incoming freshmen could also get some practice reps returning kicks, such as Travis Jay, Renardo Green, and Akeem Dent. FSU currently has one backup punter to Tyler, in sophomore Tommy Martin, but they may look to add a punter in the 2020 recruiting cycle.

Spring Outlook:

FSU’s special teams unit heads into the spring with Mark Snyder as the new special teams coach, as Odell Haggins is taking over the whole D-line. Snyder will look to eliminate the penalties that happened over and over again during the 2018 season and get more efficiency out of Ricky Aguayo. DJ Matthews will look to continue to bring a spark to the team with his punt return abilities while a few electric players will battle for kick return reps in the spring. Logan Tyler will be the leader amongst the group, and potentially a team captain during the 2019 season.


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