Senior Nick Pollard.
Courtesy: GoMocs.com
Training Camp Rundown - Special Teams

GoMocs.com wraps up its final Training Camp Rundown with today’s overview of special teams.  Chattanooga has some solid performers in this group, but it also has some areas for improvement heading into the season.  There is a lot of competition at every spot, so it is interesting to see how special teams impacts the season.

Fifth-year senior Nick Pollard (6-0, 180) leads the group as the returning kicker and punter.  Last season, he was a workhorse handling all of the kicking duties.  He was a perfect 43-43 on extra points, but just 5-10 on field goals. 

For his career, Pollard is fourth in all-time scoring at UTC with 175 points.  He may threaten the all-time record of 242 points set by Matt Vick (1997-00). 

Pollard had an excellent season punting the ball, averaging 40.7 yards per kick on 51 attempts.  He uses an unorthodox, rugby style that emphasizes getting the ball on the ground quickly with a hard roll that is difficult to return. 

He was the Southern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week after setting a school record with a 54.7-yard punting average against Wofford.  That afternoon included a 78-yard punt. His style helped the Mocs finish 25th in the FCS in net punting at 37.1 yards. 

Pollard earned some preseason recognition, including a spot on the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) Watch List for punters.  The SoCon coaches also named him to the league’s preseason second team as a punter. 

“We’ve got a couple of guys with a lot of experience, starting with Nick Pollard,” stated head coach Russ Huesman.  “Nick did a great job of punting last year.  We were in the top 25 in the country in net punting last season and that all had to do with him and the kicks that he gave us. 

“He also kicked for us and was perfect on PATs.  We have to get better on field goals, and they know that.  They are working very hard at that, but Nick will definitely be a weapon as a punter.”

Pushing Pollard for kicking duties is sophomore Henrique Ribeiro (6-0, 220).  Ribeiro was 3-5 on field goals and 1-1 on PATs as a true freshman in 2012.  He sat out last season as a redshirt, but is battling for playing time in 2014.  True freshman Harrison Reed (5-11, 160) is a former all-state kicker from Siegel High School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., who is competing as a punter and kicker.    

Ribeiro has a big leg and showed it in both of the Mocs’ preseason scrimmages.  He hit a 54-yarder in the first team outing and closed the second by connecting from 56 yards out. 

“We have a battle between who is going to kick our field goals with Nick and Henrique Ribeiro,” said Huesman.  “That’s going to be a good battle and should last all the way through camp.  We’ll probably make a decision the day before Central Michigan.”

Senior Tommy Hudson (5-11, 175) is the most experienced returner on the roster.  He handled the punt return duties in 2013, averaging 9.1 yards per return.  That number was second in the SoCon and No. 26 in the FCS. 

Look for senior Marquis Green (5-7, 175) to be the primary kick returner heading into the season.  He has seven returns in his career for a 17-yard average.  True freshman Richardre Bagley (5-9, 180) could be another option at kick returner, while sophomore C.J Board (6-2, 175) is the No. 2 option at punt returner. 

Sophomore Joe McMahon (6-0, 220) is the lone returning long snapper, but has missed all of camp with an injury.  That leaves the door open for one of two true freshmen to see time on the field.  Emory Norred (6-0, 225) is leading the way, while Tanner Dillard (6-0, 220) is also competing at the position.  Junior Jacob Huesman (6-2, 220) will again be the holder and is backed up by sophomore Ryan Bossung (5-9, 160). 

Special teams play was huge for the Mocs last season.  Pollard’s 78-yard punt against Wofford was a game changer, as was his fake punt run for a first down in the win at Appalachian State.  The Mocs need to continue their solid play in all six phases to support the rest of the team in their run at another SoCon Championship. 

With camp over, UTC is focuses on the season-opener at Central Michigan.  Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. (E.D.T.) and is available on ESPN3.  The Mocs Sports Network will also have the radio call on its new home, 96.1 The Beat in Chattanooga.  Jim Reynolds returns for his 35th season as the ‘Voice of the Mocs’ and is joined by Todd Agne (color) and Will Poindexter (sideline).

UTC’s home opener is set for Saturday, Sept. 6, against No. 6 Jacksonville State.  Tickets are on sale now on GoMocs.com, or by calling the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627).     

2014 PRESEASON SPECIAL TEAMS DEPTH CHART

Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr.-Exp. Hometown Note
K 30 Nick Pollard  6-0 180 Sr.-3L Smyrna, Tenn. 5-10 on FGs ... SoCon best 43/43 on PATs in 2013.
  40 Henrique Ribeiro  6-0 220 So.-1L Chattanooga, Tenn. Sat out last season as a redshirt.
  39 Harrison Reed  5-11 160 Fr.-HS Murfreesboro, Tenn. All-state kicker as a prep.
P 30 Nick Pollard  6-0 180 Sr.-3L Smyrna, Tenn. Rugby punter ... 40.7 avg ... 78-yarder vs. Wofford.
  40 Henrique Ribeiro  6-0 220 So.-1L Chattanooga, Tenn Sat out last season as a redshirt.
  39 Harrison Reed  5-11 160 Fr.-HS Murfreesboro, Tenn. All-state kicker as a prep.
DS 50 Emory Norred 6-0 225 Fr.-HS Chattanooga, Tenn. True freshman competing for the job.
  61 Tanner Dillard 6-0 225 Fr.-HS Cleveland, Tenn. True freshman competing for the job.
  56 Joe McMahon 6-0 220 So.-1L Mount Juliet, Tenn. Missed all of camp with an injury. 
H 14 Jacob Huesman 6-2 220 Jr.-2L Chattanooga, Tenn. Handled the holding duties last seasons.
  33 Ryan Bossung 5-9 160 So.-1L Nashville, Tenn. Played in three games last season.
PR 8 Tommy Hudson 5-11 175 Sr.-3L Moultrie, Ga. No. 26 in the FCS with 9.1 average.
  86 C.J. Board 6-2 175 So.-1L Clarksville, Tenn. Backup PR.
KR 21 Marquis Green 5-7 175 Sr.-3L Palmetto, Fla.  17.0 average on four returns. 
  23 Richardre Bagley 5-9 180 Fr.-HS Powder Springs, Ga. Two-star prep prospect.
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