Over the last few years, the Utah Utes have been having great success with their Special Teams Units. Coach Whittingham is a big proponent that special teams can either make or break a team’s chance at victory and it shows in his meticulous game planning.
In 2015 the Utah Utes will boast two of the best, if not the two best, kicker and punter duos in college football.
5’10 205lb JR Kicker Andy Phillips will look to continue his stellar play in 2015. Automatic Andy is as consistent as they come when it comes to Field Goals, PAT’s, Kickoffs and Onside Kicks for the Utes. It’s almost crazy that before coming to Utah, Phillips had never played football before and yet here he is today one of the top kickers in the NCAA. Last season Phillips (23-28 FGs, 44-45 PATs) was selected 1st Team All Pac-12 as well as being nominated for several college football awards. This season will be no different for Phillips as he is again up for several awards and will look to cement himself as the best kicker in the country something in the opinion of most Ute fans he has already done.
At Punter the Utes welcome back last season’s Ray Guy Award Winner 5’11 195lb SR Tom Hackett. Coming off a season where he garnered All American status, Hackett will be counted upon again this season to help the Utes win the field position battle. Hackett is money when he punts, continually dropping bombs within the 20, 10 and 5 yard marks. His punting style cannot be matched and is really something to watch. The way Hackett enables his teammates to get down the field and in position to make plays is truly a spectacle. Not only does Hackett punt the ball well but he also has the important job of holding for Phillips on FGs and PATs.
Of course none of this would be possible without the play of a stellar long snapper. Long snapper is one of the most under appreciated positions in football. The Utes without a doubt have one the best long snappers in the country in 6’5 225lb JR Chase Dominguez. #94 has started for the Utes since 2013 and has snapped for every punt, FG and PAT during that time span.
The Utes have a couple of positions that are up for grabs this fall- Kick Returner and Punt Returner. Over the last few years the Utes have been blessed with some incredible return men. Shaky Smithson, Reggie Dunn, Kaelin Clay- names that will go down in the Utah Utes history books. This season the Utes don’t have that established guy but they do have a collective group of guys who might be able to fill the void.
A lot of fans were counting on 5’9 175lb SO Troy McCormick being one of those guys, unfortunately an injury sustained during spring ball took him out of the running.
5’10 175lb SO Boobie Hobbs will enter fall camp as the #1 Punt Returner but he will have to hold off 6’1 197lb SR Bubba Poole and 5’9 175lb JR Cory Butler to hang onto his spot atop the depth chart.
Atop the depth chart heading into fall camp at Kick Returner will be Bubba Poole and 5’10 184lb SO Monte Seabrook. Boobie Hobbs will also look to crack the two-deep on kickoff returns as well.
From the looks of it, the special teams will again be special for the Utah Utes this season.