It Takes a Special Player to Play Special Teams
It Takes a Special Player to Play Special Teams
Aug. 19, 2011
Editor’s Note: “K-State Sports Extra” continues its nine-part look at the 2011 Wildcats with each assistant coach taking an in-depth look at his respective position.
By Mark Janssen - K-State Sports Extra
JOB DESCRIPTION: Someone who loves the game of football… Someone who is willing to throw his body around and willing to give relentless effort.
Those are the words of Kansas State Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Sean Snyder on what it takes to play on special teams for the Wildcats.
“Our special teams are the quickest way to the playing field for many of our athletes,” said Snyder, a former All-American punter who is on K-State’s Ring of Honor at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. “You have to have kids who believe in special teams and understand how seriously we take those teams. We want hard-nosed kids who want to play every possible snap.”
At K-State, the special teams are made up with the rawest of rookies to the super-star first-teamers like Terence Newman, Jon McGraw or Jordy Nelson, who are all now in the NFL, and in Snyder’s words, “… want to play with heart and desire 100-percent of the time.”
K-State enters the 2011 season looking to replace the kicking talents of junior Josh Cherry, who was 7-of-9 on field goals and was perfect in 47 extra-point attempts in 2010.
Running No. 1 entering the fall is Anthony Cantele, who handled the majority of Kansas State’s kickoffs last year, plus the former Missouri State soccer player contributed a 35-yard field goal against UCLA. As a prep at Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School in Wichita, Kan., Cantele was true on 145-of-147 extra points, plus he nailed 20-of-23 field goals.
“Anthony has proven to be very accurate and does a nice job of getting the ball in the air. He has the capabilities to kick a 55- or 60-yard field goal,” said Snyder. “He’s shown to have the ability to move the ball around with his kicks and has been good at the trick kicks. The strength of his kickoffs is his hang time.
“I think he’s going to be a really, really fine kicker,” said Snyder. “He’s one of the hardest-working kids on the team.”
Ryan Doerr returns as the Wildcats’ No. 1 punter. The Katy, Texas, native averaged 41.3 yards last year as a sophomore, which included a 39.2 net average.
“Ryan has grown every year,” said Snyder. “A 39.2 net average is just phenomenal, but now we need to improve on that. He’s a hard worker and has some ability. Last year, he had only two touchbacks, which is really good, but now we have to eliminate the two.”
Doerr’s career average of 41.3 yards ranks sixth in Kansas State history. Last year, he averaged at least 45 yards in four different games.
Behind Doerr, Butler Community College transfer Logan Ortiz is listed as the No. 2 punter.
With the unenviable task of replacing long snapper Cory Adams – who was perfect on all 483 snaps in his career – is Marcus Heit, a 6-2, 233-pound sophomore from Derby, Kan. He will be backed by senior tight end Jeremy Sutton of Welda, Kan., and freshmen Candler Smith of Olathe, Kan., or Dalton Converse of Clay Center, Kan.
“The key trait we look for is velocity on the ball,” said Snyder. “Regardless of fundamentals, you have to have velocity. Then you look for athletic ability. You need someone who is physically tough, but also has the athletic ability to move around and run down the field to make a play.”
The return positions – punt and kickoff – could be plugged by one of up to a dozen candidates.
Tramaine Thompson was the squad’s leading punt returner last year, averaging 7.4 yards on 13 returns, while Tysyn Hartman and Ty Zimmerman each had four returns for averages of 10.2 and 13.0 yards, respectively.
With a punt returner, Snyder said, “You look for a guy that has some fearlessness to him. He has to be able to catch it and not bobble it with people coming at him 100 miles per hour. Then you’d like to have a guy who can get started, which comes with making the first guy miss him. You’d also like a guy with break-away speed, but that doesn’t do any good if he can’t catch it.”
With kickoffs, he continued, “You have more time to see the ball and make a good catch, and then you’d like to have a guy who can read what’s happening in front of him. You want a strong and explosive player.”
While the return positions normally go to offensive players, Snyder indicated that cornerback David Garrett had an excellent spring returning kickoffs, along with running backs Bryce Brown and John Hubert, and receivers Brodrick Smith and Chris Harper.
MEET Sean Snyder (Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator)
• 17th season on the K-State staff
• Part-time assistant coach (1994-96), director of football operations/associate AD (1996-2010); still holds the title of director of football operations
• Kansas State’s special teams player of the year in 1991 and 1992 as a punter
• Career punting average of 43.0 yards ranks second in school history
• Member of the K-State Ring of Honor
• Wife – Wanda; Children – Katherine, Tate and Mathew; Tate is a redshirt freshman linebacker for the Wildcats
SPECIAL TEAMS CANDIDATES
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