Over the next week, Zona Zealots will be previewing the Arizona Wildcats’ 2013 roster in advance of their season opener against NAU on Aug. 30 (For the full list of position previews, click here).
RSr. Brian Chacon (Cypress, Calif./Cypress), RSr. Jake Smith (Philadelphia/Cheltenham/Syracuse/Youngstown State), RJr. Chase Gorham (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral), RSo. Drew Riggleman (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro), RSo. Casey Skowron (Phoenix/Brophy Prep)
John Bonano, Kyle Dugandzic, Jaime Salazar
After losing both punter Kyle Dugandzic and kicker John Bonano, the kicking competitions were the most competitive position battle in camp, with the exception of quarterback.
Both players were extremely productive last season, as Dugandzic ranked 32nd in the nation by averaging 43.2 yards per punt, while Bonano scored 102 points, good for 52nd in the nation.
Head coach Rich Rodriguez has yet to announce a winner between Casey Skowron and Jake Smith for field goal and kickoff duties. Drew Riggleman, the only punter on the roster, will handle the punting duties. Brian Chacon and Chase Gorham will handle long-snapping duties for kicks and punts, respectively. Backup quarterback Nick Isham will handle holding duties.
In the return game, Rich Rodriguez has listed true freshman wide receiver Nate Phillips as the main kick and punt returner. He will likely split time with sophomore receiver Johnny Jackson. Daniel Jenkins, Jared Baker and Kylan Butler all returned kickoffs last year and might be used in that role again this year.
The return game would get a huge boost if Davonte’ Neal is not required to sit out the NCAA’s one-year transfer requirement. Neal is already among the fastest players on the team and was a dynamic returner in high school at Chaparral in Scottsdale, Arizona. Last season at Notre Dame, he returned 21 punts for a total of 46 yards.
If Riggleman and either Skowron or Smith prove to be as consistent as their predecessors and the return game improves, special teams could be a strength for Arizona this season.
Topics: 2013 Football Position Previews, Arizona Wildcats, Brian Chacon, Casey Skowron, Chase Gorham, Daniel Jenkins, Davonte' Neal, Drew Riggleman, Follow, Index, Jake Smith, Jared Baker, John Bonano, Johnny Jackson, Kylan Butler, Kyle Dugandzic, Nate Phillips, Nick Isham, Rich Rodriguez