August 31, 2009

Florida has big edge on special teams

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Today, we continue unveiling our national unit rankings with special teams. We've unveiled one per day since Aug. 25 and end Tuesday with overall coaching staffs.

The No. 1 team in the special teams ranking has one of the nation's best-known return men and gets back its kicker and punter. The team also is known for blocking kicks.

Here are the special teams rankings. Next up: coaching staffs.

SPECIAL TEAMS UNIT RANKINGS

1. Florida
BUZZ
: P Chas Henry might be the best in the nation. K Jonathan Phillips went 12-of-13 on field-goal attempts last season and made an SEC-record 78 extra points. Return man Brandon James is excellent. Oh, yeah the Gators blocked nine kicks last season, including five punts.

2. Texas
BUZZ
: It's true Texas goes a legit two-deep at kicker and punter. Ryan Bailey and Hunter Lawrence are the kickers, and Justin Tucker and John Gold the punters. All four will play. Jordan Shipley is a good return man.

3. Alabama
BUZZ
: PR Javier Arenas can flip the field at any time. K Leigh Tiffin will be called on often this season. The coverage units are solid, too.

4. Miami
BUZZ
: K/P Matt Bosher might be the best double-duty kicker in the nation. The return teams should be among the most productive in the nation; the same goes with the coverage units.

5. Michigan State
BUZZ
: The Spartans may have the nation's best kicker/punter combo in K Brett Swenson and P Aaron Bates. Swenson led the Big Ten with 22 field goals last season. The return units should be at least solid, if not excellent.

6. Oklahoma State
BUZZ
: PR Dez Bryant and KR Perrish Cox overcome any shortcomings in the other components of the special teams.

7. Boise State
BUZZ
: CB Kyle Wilson doubles as one of the best punt returners in the nation. K/P Kyle Brotzman does a good job handling double-duty.

8. Troy
BUZZ
: Jorrick Calvin is a big-time return man. The Trojans' coverage teams were among the best in the nation last season. And Troy has a solid kicker-punter tandem.

9. UCLA
BUZZ
: Kai Forbath is the best kicker in the nation. Terrence Austin is a good return man.

10. New Mexico
BUZZ
: K James Aho has a good leg. S Ian Clark is the best punt returner in the Mountain West. And the coverage teams are solid.

8 OTHERS TO WATCH: California(P Bryan Anger is one of the best in the nation); Cincinnati(WR Mardy Gilyard is a great kick returner, and K Jake Rogers is solid); East Carolina(The Pirates have a good kicker/punter duo and have solid return men); Fresno State(A.J. Jefferson is one of the nation's best return men); Houston(The Cougars' return teams are explosive); Mississippi(K Joshua Shene may be the best at his position in the SEC and the coverage units did a fine job last season); N.C. State(K Josh Czajkowski is a good one, the coverage teams are solid and the return men have potential); TCU(K Ross Evans and P Anson Kelton are the Mountain West's top kicker-punter duo and Jeremy Kerley is an explosive return man).

(Rankings by Rivals.com staffers Olin Buchanan, Tom Dienhart, David Fox, Mike Huguenin and Steve Megargee.)



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