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Provo • At BYU's football media day in June, coach Bronco Mendenhall said his biggest concerns were developing some depth along the offensive line and in the defensive secondary.
Well, the 11th-year coach has a new worry: punting.
There are two punters in preseason camp, and neither rugby star Jonny Linehan nor freshman returned missionary Rhett Almond has been all that impressive. In fact, on Monday and Tuesday, the two struggled mightily just to get off decent rugby-type punts.
"Not as positive today," Mendenhall said after Monday's performances. "I would say 50 percent. Day One: smiley face. Day Two: frowny face. We will see over time. Too early to tell."
Mendenhall said there are no plans to bring in another punter, but special teams coordinator Kelly Poppinga said there's a chance.
"For right now, we are going with those two guys," Poppinga said. But there are other options out there."
BYU's post-spring depth chart listed Taylor Parker, a freshman returned missionary from Hurricane, as its starting punter. However, the former prep quarterback is no longer with the team.
"Trepidation is a good word," Mendenhall said of the team's punting dilemma. "Until you see a ball kicked in a real game, there's some trepidation. And sometimes after that there is trepidation. So our job in fall camp is to get them enough experience, so there is less trepidation."
Poppinga said both punters need to be more consistent, and reminded critics that Scott Arellano was hit and miss his junior year before turning in a stellar senior season that saw him boot the longest punt in school history: 82 yards. He surpassed Lee Johnson's 80-yarder from 1983.
"Those guys have never played college football before, but they are extreme talents," Poppinga said, noting that they boom 70-yarders when they are out on the practice field. "There are going to be growing pains, and we know that."
At least, the Cougars have an experienced place kicker back for one more year.
Trevor Samson, who went 12 of 14 on his field-goal attempts and 62 of 63 on his PATs in 2014, got news that the NCAA was allowing the 2013 season in which he never played to be considered a redshirt year.
"It was a pleasant surprise," Samson said. "I was hoping for it, but you never know."
Samson seemingly has PAT and field goal kicking chores sewn up, but he is competing with the other kicker in camp, junior Austin Brasher, for the right to be the kickoff guy. Samson said Brasher has the edge in that competition, which also includes Almond, the punter.
Former Hurricane kicker Corey Edwards is expected to join the competition when school starts this month. Moose Bingham, whom Samson beat out last year, has transferred to Snow College.
"Those guys push me every day to be the best I can be," Samson said. "We are going to move the ball down the field a lot, score a lot of points. I am looking forward to having more opportunities to kick, especially with the opponents that we have this season."
BYU's projected specialist depth chart
Position First Team Second Team
Place kicker Trevor Samson Austin Brasher
Punter Jonny Linehan Rhett Almond
Kick returner Adam Hine Trey Dye
Punt returner Mitchell Juergens Eric Takenaka
Deep Snapper Parker Dawe Matt Foley