The third in our series of off-season posts on the football team's roster comes with analysis of punters, kickers, and returners. Hey! This is one area where we might not be so bad!
Defense wins games and special teams wins championships, they say. This is true, but truer still is the axiom of defense winning games and special teams losing championships. That is to say, good teams have good defenses, and they do not have bad special teams. Ole Miss may struggle some defensively this year - to put it lightly - but we should have one of the better sets of special teams in the Southeastern Conference which, who knows, may make us a somewhat competitive program come football season.
Heisman shoo-in Tyler Campbell will again start as the Rebel punter. He's been on a handful of all-SEC teams over the past two years for two reasons: our classic "don't score a lot of points" offense requires the punter to get his work in, and he's got a damn strong boot. He consistently has punts over 40 yards, and has even knocked a ball 73 yards against BYU. His hangtime is, at times, lacking and he has a propensity to sail the ball a bit. He doesn't have the best touch either, but really my criticism for Campbell is quite reserved. He's a good footballer. We expect a solid mix of NFL-worthy punts with dangerously outkicked coverage. All-in-all, we expect good things out of Campbell.
Field goals and PATs will be handled by Bryson Rose yet again. Last season, he made 9 of his 11 field goal attempts and 20 of his 21 PATs. His career long field goal is a 43 yarder, so he's not really known for his power, but he most certainly has the accuracy to legitimately compete for an all-SEC spot at kicker if he is given enough opportunities. I honestly feel that we are going to be perfectly fine with Bryson Rose this season.
Kicking off is the pride of Jackson Academy, Andrew Ritter. A lot of people will cheer for him. It will be silly.
On returns, I expect to see Jeff Scott, Tobias Singleton, Philander Moore, and incoming freshman Jaylon Walton handle most of that load. If Walton's as good an all-purpose back as the recruiting services have led us to believe, he could see time returning punts situationally. Really, though, I think most of the returning roles are Jeff Scott's to lose. Just so long as whoever returns punts and kicks can make decent moves in space and minimize turnovers, I'll be pleased.