Analyzing Arizona Football's special teams room ahead of the 2024 season

Two of the three main specialists from the last few years are onto new phases, so how will Arizona's special teams unit look in 2024?
Oregon State v Arizona
Oregon State v Arizona / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

Special teams is the perennially under-remembered third phase of a football game that truly is make-or-break. After all, ask the 2010 San Diego Chargers. One of the main reasons Arizona's special teams unit has flown under the radar for so long is because of how consistent they have been.

When a specialist does his job correctly, the fans don't even notice them. Both outgoing punter Kyle Ostendorp and long snapper Seth MacKellar held down their starting positions with Arizona for years on end. Now, the only starter from the last two seasons returning is All-Pac-12 kicker Tyler Loop for his last hurrah.

2023 Roster:

  • K Tyler Loop - Returned to Arizona
  • P Kyle Ostendorp - Out of eligibility; Not pursuing professional career
  • LS Seth MacKellar- Undrafted in 2024 NFL Draft
  • K/P Cash Peterman - Returned to Arizona
  • P Jordan Forbes - Returned to Arizona
  • LS Kameron Hawkins - Transferred to Colorado

2024 Projected roster:

  • K Tyler Loop - Returned to Arizona
  • K/P Cash Peterman - Returned to Arizona
  • P Jordan Forbes - Returned to Arizona
  • LS Trey Naughton - Transferred in from Western Kentucky
  • LS Justin Holloway - Transferred in from Ohio
  • K/P Michael Salgado-Medina - Incoming freshman

The outgoing players from last season will see either Cash Peterman or Jordan Forbes move up a spot on the depth chart to battle it out for the starting punter position. Meanwhile, a battle between transfers Justin Holloway and Trey Naughton will go down with the winner being awarded the starting spot.

Tyler Loop (Senior) | 6'1" 190 lbs. | Kicker

Tyler Loop
UCLA v Arizona / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Loop is the established veteran leader of this group. Not only has he spent the longest tenure in Tucson out of anybody else in the room, but he's also an automatic kicker who bested his career-long twice in the 2023 season with a 51-yarder against Oregon State and a 52-yarder against Colorado. Also in the game against Colorado, he notched the game-winner to cap off a stellar day.

For his efforts, he was an All-Pac-12 specialist for the second year in a row, having earned an honorable mention in 2022 and being named to the second-team last year. Loop is returning for one final year with the Wildcats, where he'll anchor the special teams unit and look to stay perfect for his career on extra points.

Trey Naughton (RS Sophomore) | 6'0" 195 lbs. | Long snapper

When it comes to youth versus experience at the specialist position, Arizona's coaching staff may opt for the long-term investment that comes with putting Naughton on the field over former Ohio Bobcat Justin Holloway. It may come with a bit of a learning curve, but Arizona could be in another set-it-and-forget-it situation if Naughton settles in quickly enough.

The Tucson native and Salpointe Catholic High School graduate spent his first two seasons with Western Kentucky, where he saw action in 13 games last year as the Hilltoppers' primary long snapper and earned All-Conference-USA honors. Now, the opportunity is there for him to start for his hometown Wildcats and become a special teams fixture on a different Tucson gridiron.

Jordan Forbes (RS Sophomore) | 6'0" 225 lbs. | Punter

Kyle Ostendorp, Tyler Loop
Arizona v Colorado / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

Forbes is the only other specialist returning to Arizona who was with the team prior to the 2023 season, and he's been patiently waiting for his shot at the starting punter gig. He served as Ostendorp's backup for the last two seasons, and he'll finally get to battle it out with Peterman to see some time on the field.

Punter is one of the positions that Forbes was recruiting at coming out of high school, and he's never served as the team's kicker. This distinction is important, considering that the two kicking styles require different motions. Forbes has an advantage in this area, and No. 49 will likely be the one rolling onto the field for fourth-down plays.

Cash Peterman (RS Junior) | 6'0" 210 lbs. | Kicker/Punter

Peterman is in the running for the starting punter spot while also returning to his post as the kicker backing up Loop in the upcoming season. The social media sensation transferred to his home-state Arizona after spending the 2021-22 seasons with BYU where he took a pair of kickoffs in 2021.

It remains an outside shot that he'll take up the starting punter role, especially after spending his entire collegiate career to this point as a kicker. He actually played some of his high school football at Oro Valley's Ironwood Ridge High School, so it's likely that he's just glad to be back in a familiar environment where he can compete.

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