2008 ULM Spring Preview: Special Teams
Biggest Return: Junior Punter Scott Love
There were many hero's in ULM's upset victory over Alabama in Tuscaloosa last November, but one could make a case that punter Scott Love was the MVP of that game, and a big reason why ULM came away as victors.
After learning the ropes from Kevin Payne as a Freshman in 2006, Scott has been the starting punter and established himself as not only one of the best punters in the Sun Belt conference, but also the nation.
Scott led the Sun Belt conference averaging 42.1 yards per kick, and set a ULM school record with 23 punts downed inside the 20 yard line. Love was named Sun Belt and Louisiana Player of the Week a total of four times during the 2007 season and boomed 11 kicks that traveled 50 yards or more.
Behind Love’s punting, ULM ranked 17th in the nation in net punting. Scott was rewarded for his play by being named to the 1st Team All-Sun Belt conference team. With another year of experience under his belt and off season workouts, Scott(pictured below) is poised to break his 2007 records and raise the bar even higher in 2008.
Biggest Loss: Kicker Cole Wilson
Since mid season 2006 Cole Wilson established himself as the solid starter at kicker and kept that role until he played his last game in November at ULL. With all his eligibility used up, the torch is now passed to the only kicker listed on the ULM roster, Freshman Radi Jabouri.
Radi red shirted last season but did appear in one game. On the road facing the Clemson Tigers, Radi was called on to try a 55 yard fg as the first half came to an end. The kick was drilled by Radi and just missed to the left but had the distance with plenty to spare.
Way back in the one of the summer scrimmages Radi gave Coach Weatherbie and staff a good reason to smile and left ULM fans that attended knowing that the kicking game was going to be in good hands for the next four years. Radi easily hit from 32, 42, and 47 yards away. He then sent oooh's and ahhh's through the stadium when he blasted a 53 yard fg through the uprights with at least 6 yards to spare.
It was easy to see that Jabouri really like the new ULM field turf. Radi (Pictured below) should make an immediate impact and give ULM a weapon that most college football teams will not have. While most college fans will sweat about their kicker having the distance and the accuracy, ULM fans will rest easy knowing that distance will not be a factor for Mr. Jabouri.
Possibly the most unsung player on a college football team is the deep snapper. No one ever mentions them until they snap one over the punters head or rolls one back to the place holder. The ULM Warhawks had a HUGE question mark coming into to spring drills last year and still had a HUGE problem when spring drills ended.
When ULM coaches invited 5 deep snappers to summer practices, their worries were set to rest when Brandon Woodside stepped up and showed that he could get the job done. Woodside appeared in all 12 games in 2007 and did an excellent job. Brandon will look to continue that success as a Senior in 2008.
Senior Chance Payne will again double as Line Backer and holder for extra points and field goals. Starting Senior WR Marty Humphrey can also fill in at the holder position if needed.
There is nothing like having a set of good secure hands returning punts and look for Junior to be Darrell McNeal to continue that role in 2008. In 2007 Frank Goodin and Tay Ogletree returned kick offs but there is a new sheriff in town in 2008. Expect to see the anticipated debut of true freshman Luther Ambrose take over that role. Ambrose has world class speed and has been clocked in the 4.29 range in the forty and 10.1 in the 100.