Unlike the defensive line preview from yesterday, the special teams unit is highlighted by two brand new freshmen players. With the departure of punter Cason Beatty and kicker Roberto Aguayo, the two new voids will be filled by promising young athletes who are ready for the challenge. In the return game, Florida State enters spring with two experienced seniors who have had some nice success in their FSU careers.
Kicker Ricky Aguayo (6-1, 198), Roberto's younger brother, brings his talent and high expectations from his brother to Florida State. In an interview with our Bud Elliot at the Under Armour All-American game, Ricky said that he and Roberto's style are much different. "I'm better accuracy wise, he definitely had the bigger leg," however he hopes to gain that power once he develops at FSU. In high school, his average kickoff traveled more than 64 yards, and he saw 35 of his 47 kickoffs sail into the end zone. Aguayo was told by Jimbo Fisher that he would take care of the kicking, however nothing is determined as of yet.
Fellow freshman Logan Tyler will presumably take over the punter role for a graduating Cason Beatty. He is well known for the 75-yard field goal that he made last year, and he both punted and kicked in high school. He received very high praise at the Kohls Kicking camp, with their scouting report stating, "Logan made 19 FG in a row into the wind during Texas Showcase, no one else at the camp was capable of making the kicks he made. He and Tucker McCann are the most college ready kickers in the country at this point." He should make a strong impact from day one on campus.
In the event of an injury, the only other kicker on Florida State's roster is sophomore Kevin Robledo (6-0, 164), who was on the same Westlake, CA high school football team as Malik Henry. He has not kicked in a game, with Roberto Aguayo ahead of him on the depth chart last season, and will more than likely start the season on the scout team due to the addition of the two highly touted special teams freshmen specialists. In high school, Robledo was selected to the Army All-American game, and his leg strength was one of the things FSU liked about him.
The 'Noles will have reliable senior Kermit Whitfield (5-8, 180) returning kicks for another season. The senior set a new career record for kick return yards last season, and will look to add to that mark in 2016, possibly eclipsing the 2,000 yard mark. Whitfield averaged 26.7 yards per return in 19 chances last season and has been the starting kick returner since his freshman year, when he broke a 59-year old ACC record with an average return of 36.4 yards. What remains to be seen is who's back deep with him, given the departure of Jalen Ramsey. DB Tarvarus McFadden is one option; WR Pigg Harrison is another.
Senior Jesus Wilson (5-10, 186) will probably take back the punts in spring (prior to the summer arrival of 2016 signee Levonte Taylor), a role he held a majority of last year, when he had a total of 26 returns and averaged 4.3 yards per return. Just like Whitfield, Wilson has been returning punts since his freshman year. Behind him is sophomore Nyqwan Murray (5-11, 179) who returned three punts last year and could be the leading spring candidate if Wilson has some difficulties catching the ball as he did in some games last year. Murray took reps at punt return all of last fall and played that role in high school.
A perfect blend of young and old is the theme when talking about the members of the Florida State special teams. All three players doing the kicking will be no older than a sophomore and will have many years to grow into their potential, while the present returners are both seniors. Special teams is a position that is highly overlooked and can change the way a game turns out. Florida State should not have to worry about prospective special teams problems for the foreseeable future.