Hokie Football Outlook, Part VIII
Special Teams
July 28, 2006

Outlook Schedule on hokiesports.com:
General OutlookWednesday, July 12
Offensive LineFriday, July 14
Wide Receivers/Tight EndsMonday, July 17
Tailbacks/Fullbacks/QuarterbacksWednesday, July 19
Defensive LineFriday, July 21
LinebackersMonday, July 24
SecondaryWednesday, July 26
SpecialistsFriday, July 28
Headlines

  • Place-kicker Brandon Pace has finished as the second-leading scorer in the ACC each of the past two seasons. Pace has been ranked the 10th-best place-kicker in the nation by Lindy's and the 13th-best kicker by The Sporting News.

  • At 6-2, 273 pounds, senior Nic Schmitt rates as one of the biggest punters in the nation. He also ranks as one of the best. Schmitt, who has been ranked the No. 5 punter in the country by Lindy's, was named to the 2006 Playboy All-America team.

  • Virginia Tech's reputation for blocking kicks has taken a hit lately, with just 11 combined blocks over the past three seasons. This year's roster includes just one player with a block to their credit. Sophomore Victor Harris was credited with a block on a punt by North Carolina in the Hokies' final regular season game of 2005.

RETURNERS
No.NameCl.Pos.
97Brent Bowdenr-Fr.P
Cory Byrdr-Fr.DS
98Jared DevelliJr.PK
92Jud Dunlevyr-Jr.PK
47John Hedger-Jr.PK
61Scott KingJr.DS
53Nick Leesonr-Sr.DS
54Bart McMillinr-Jr.DS
46Brandon Pacer-Sr.PK
23Nic Schmittr-Sr.P
The Players
Place-kickers
Brandon Pace - Set a school single-season record for points by a kicker last year with 108 ... Is currently seventh all-time in scoring at Tech ... A two-time Lou Groza Award semifinalist ... Is 40-for-49 on field goals during his career (81.6 percent) ... May also get a look on kickoffs.

Jud Dunlevy - Has been a backup for placements and kickoffs the last two seasons ... Has a strong leg ... Hit a 51-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Tech jayvee team to a win over Hargrave last fall ... Handled 21 kickoffs in 2005 ... Will battle for those duties again when practice resumes.

Jared Develli - Another strong-legged kicker ... Has handled the bulk of Tech's kickoffs the past two seasons ... Kicked off 64 times last year with 29 touchbacks ... Is being challenged for the starting duties for the third-straight year.

John Hedge - An accurate kicker ... Has seen all his action in jayvee games ... Has served as both a place-kicker and a punter ... Will help provide depth behind Brandon Pace.

Punters
Nic Schmitt - Has a strong left leg ... Averaged 43.2 yards on 62 punts last season, the second-best single-season average for a Tech punter ... A real weapon in the battle for field position ... Excels in the weight room ... Also serves as the holder for placements.

Brent Bowden - Dressed for all the games last year as the backup for Schmitt but did not see action and was redshirted ... Has good ability ... Needs to stay sharp in case he is needed.

Snappers
Nick Leeson - Served as Tech's snapper on punts last season ... Didn't have a bad snap in 52 attempts ... Will also challenge for the vacated PAT/field goal short snapping duties ... Has worked his way up to Super Iron Hokie status in the weight room.

Bart McMillin - Is competing with Leeson for the long snapping duties ... Served as the back up at the position last season, but did not see varsity action.

Scott King - Worked at defensive tackle on the scout and jayvee teams last fall ... Worked as a short snapper for field goals and PATs during the spring ... Will challenge Nick Leeson for those duties when practice resumes.

Returns
Eddie Royal - An exceptional talent who has led the team in both kickoff and punt returns each of the last two seasons ... Was fifth in the ACC in punt returns a year ago ... Is also a two-year starter as a receiver for the Hokies.

Josh Morgan - Is likely to see some action as a punt and kickoff returner ... Showed good ability in limited return duty last season ... A physical player who is hard to bring down ... Is one of the Hokies' top receivers on offense.

Coach Beamer
On Special Teams
"We did replace a few people on our punt protection team during the spring and we need to make sure we have that squared away. But, we should be very good on special teams. I think we have really good kickers. If they perform up to their capabilities, our kicking game will be a strong point.

"I would like to see our guys blocking more kicks and returning more kicks. We were in position to block several kicks last year, but could never get them blocked. The more we can block them, the more we can return them. This is something we plan to concentrate on."