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2017 Position Preview: Special Teams

Replacing special teams returner Victor Bolden Jr. and kicker Garrett Owens are amongst Oregon State’s biggest concerns heading into the 2017 season.

Washington State v Oregon State Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The Personnel

  • Trevon Bradford - PR, KR (SO)
  • Jordan Choukair - K, KO, P (SO)
  • Seth Collins - PR, KR (JR)
  • Xavier Hawkins - PR, KR(SR)
  • Timmy Hernandez - PR, KR (JR)
  • Nick Porebski - P, KO (SR)
  • Daniel Rodriguez - K, KO, P (SO)
  • Zach Standish - K, KO (SO)

Definitely/Could Be Gone

Victor Bolden Jr. (KR/PR) and Garrett Owens (K): Bolden Jr. was one of the Beavers’ best all-around playmakers during his stay in Corvallis, which was highlighted by a bevy of memorable moments on special teams, including returns like this one. He’ll be missed tenfold by a group that likely will use a Spring competition to determine who will taking over the returning duties for Oregon State.

As for Owens, he left the program after securing his Bachelor’s degree in three years at Oregon State and chose to transfer to Iowa State, where he’ll be immediately eligible. During his career, Owens connected on 32 of his 45 field goal attempts and went 77/78 overall on extra points. He leaves the school ranked sixth in all-time field goal percentage (71.1%) and seventh in all-time career made field goals (32).

New To The Mix

The Freshman Class: I didn’t list the incoming freshman above with “The Personel” but there’s a serious amount of gifted playmakers at the skill positions who are all headed to Corvallis and ready to fight for playing time from day one. For some of these players, making their names on special teams may be the key.

Oregon State adds a host of wide receivers including Isaiah Hodgins, Kolby Taylor, Quantino Allen, Aaron Short, Kaleb Hayes, Arex Flemings and Dionte Sykes, as well as a strong list of defensive backs that include Trajon Cotton, Charles Moku-Watson, Jeffrey Manning, Isaiah Dunn and Justin Gardner. Don’t count out incoming running backs Calvin Tyler, Kesi Ah-Hoy and B.J. Baylor from this competition as well. With some deceptive speed and solid ball-control, all three of those backs could factor into one of these roles.

Who Will Start?

Definitely Nick Porebski, Maybe Jordan Choukair & Who Knows After That: We won’t get into all the accolades about punter Nick Porebski but all you need to know is that the Oregon State punter is a serious contender for this season’s Ray Guy Award, which goes to the top punter in all of college football. (Porebski has been on the watch-list for the award for the last two seasons.) Punting should be the strength of this special teams group.

Kicking is always a touchy subject but as long as you can find someone from this group to put the ball through the up-rights on extra points with great consistency, the lack of a having a knockdown field goal kicker from distance can be worked around. However, I’ve heard nothing but good things about former five-star kicker Jordan Choukair. Choukair, who’s father John was a kicker in the NFL, was an elite kicking prospect coming out of high school and likely will take over the kick-off, field goal and extra point duties. It was hinted through multiple points during last season that Choukair was the heir-apparent to Garrett Owens.

Unfortunately for Oregon State, there won’t be an electric option like Victor Bolden Jr. back there returning kicks and punts but my guess is the coaching staff leans towards one of their many freshman skill players to figure out those duties, maybe flanked by a steady talent like Seth Collins. While Collins’ health is still priority number one at the moment, this 2017 recruiting group contains too many talented playmakers who will all be fighting for their spots on the field. Expect a few of them to mix their way into the special teams and return game.

What To Expect?

More Conservativeness: Without a trusted and proven option like Victor Bolden Jr. back there fielding kicks and punts, it’ll be hard for the coaching staff to let another player immediately fill into a similar role. Simply put, in the return game, expect a whole lot of fair catches, with a “living to see another day” type of mentality.

In the kicking game, Andersen has always let the flow of the contest dictate his mentality but Owens (despite missing 13 field goals in his career) was a very trust-worthy option from inside of 40-yards for the Beavers. I’m not sure Andersen and company will immediately trust another leg like that, although Choukair could prove me wrong. I could see the Beavers playing into a lot of four-down scenarios and even punting more from around mid-field, with a talented option like Porebski able to pin opponents.

2017 Oregon State Football Position Previews

Sunday (2/19): Quarterbacks
Monday (2/20): Running Backs
Tuesday (2/21): Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Wednesday (2/22): Offensive Line
Thursday (2/23): Defensive Line
Friday (2/24): Linebackers
Saturday (2/25): Defensive Backs
Sunday (2/26): Special Teams