There’s turnover on the Kansas football roster everywhere, including special teams. Let’s dig deeper.
QUESTION: Who is going to kick the ball through the uprights?
Matthew Wyman (pictured above) should get a lot of credit for helping the Jayhawks knock off Texas last year, as he nailed all three field goal attempts that night, including a game tying shot and a game winning shot. Wyman finished his senior campaign hitting 13/19 field goals, good for 68.4%, but over his career, he was inconsistent at best, costing the Jayhawks a couple of games and hitting just 60.4% combined over four years. In fact, if we remove the Texas game, Wyman’s career percentage at KU drops to 57.7%.
However, there is hope on the horizon, as Beaty and company actually went out and recruited a kicker this past offseason. Liam Jones reportedly has a monster leg and some accuracy to go with it. He will compete with fellow freshman Cole Brungardt and senior Gabriel Rui for placekicking duties. Brungardt kicked and punted for Lawrence High School last year, while Rui was a Juco transfer in 2016 and was officially listed as Wyman’s backup on the depth chart.
PREDICTION: You don’t use a scholarship and 1/25th of your recruiting class on a kicker unless you’re serious, right? I look for Liam Jones to win the job in camp and hit 75% of his field goals this year.
QUESTION: Ok, so who is going to punt?
Well, I assume it will be last year’s punter, Cole Moos, who averaged 41.4 yards per punt in 2016. Moos came to KU as a Juco transfer following the 2015 season and hit well enough to win the starting job last year. Kyle Thompson, the only other punter currently listed on the roster, redshirted last year.
PREDICTION: It’s hard not to go with the returning starter, so I’ll have to go with Moos here.
QUESTION: Who is going to return kickoffs and punt returns?
Well, fortunately, it won’t be Quiv Gonzalez. (Too soon?) Quiv’s fumbling issues aside, Beaty has said he won’t be afraid to put WR1 Steven Sims back there. Observers at practice this fall have noticed Quan Hampton and Kerr Johnson taking reps as well. Last year, Taylor Martin got a few kickoff return opportunities, and Derrick Neal was the only player other than Quiv to field a punt.
PREDICTION: This is truly one of the most jumbled positions on the entire Kansas depth chart. David Beaty says Steven Sims is emerging as the number one option for returns, and given the struggles at that spot last year, that is who I expect will get the nod at punt returns. As for kick returns, I would expect Sims to be deep alongside one of these six players: Ryan Schadler, Daylon Charlot, Kerr Johnson, Takulve Williams, Dom Williams, and Quan Hampton.