Florida State football heads into the 2017 season with its special teams starters already named. It’s a mixture of new faces and old faces that make up the unit.
Returning is kicker Ricky Aguayo, entering his sophomore year. The 6’2 196 lb. Groza Award watch list member will look to capitalize off a modest freshman year. The younger brother of second-round NFL draft pick kicker Roberto Aguayo, Ricky made 19-26 field goals with a long of 47. He started off the season on a high note against Ole Miss, going 6-6 in the season opener, however struggled thereafter finishing up the season only making 13 of his final 20 kicks. Aguayo may not have the leg strength his brother had, but he has been working on his accuracy all offseason and Jimbo Fisher said he is pleased with where Aguayo is at.
Punting and in charge of kickoff duties is sophomore Logan Tyler. In his rookie year, Tyler averaged 40.3 yards on 54 punts, 11 of which landed inside the opponents 20-yard line. One of the 6’0 201 lb. Nixa, Mo. native’s strengths is his powerful left foot. He averaged 64.1 yards per kickoff attempt, the highest in the ACC and ninth highest in the country. His 57 touchbacks on kickoff attempts also led the ACC and were good enough for fifth in the nation. Look for Tyler to improve his accuracy heading into and throughout the 2017 season.
Now for the new faces.
Named starting kickoff returners were wide receiver Keith Gavin and defensive back Derwin James. Gavin, standing in at 6’3 225 lbs., only touched the ball once in 2016 but made it count. The sophomore returned a kick for 66 yards late in the Orange Bowl vs. Michigan which set Florida State up for a game-winning touchdown drive. Gavin’s large frame will be of benefit when returning kicks, making him harder to take down.
On the other side, star junior defensive back Derwin James will look to make an impact on both his team and the Heisman Trophy voters. Similar to Gavin, the 6’3 211 lb. standout has returned one kick in his career. However, that return was from a punt. It didn’t go too well for James who had negative-two yards on the return. Still, that was two years ago and James has the vision and speed to efficiently return kicks.
Rounding out the unit at punt returner is junior Tarvarus McFadden. The junior from South Florida had one kick return his freshman season for 26 yards. Although he doesn’t have much experience returning in college, the 6’2 198 lb. returner had success in high school at that role and even returned a kick for a touchdown in the 2015 Army All-American Bowl.