Virginia Tech Spring Kickers/Punters Preview

Unfortunately for Hokie fans, our last memories of a Virginia Tech kicker/punter was Justin Myer missing an overtime field goal in the Sugar Bowl (of course he was our 3rd-string kicker and hit four field goals to get us to that point). While it wasn't his fault that we lost, it is a bitter memory and it still feels very recent (sorry for bringing it up...moving on).

Gone are Myer, the original 2011 backup Tyler Weiss who was sent home from the Sugar Bowl after missing curfew and presumably so is 2011 starter Cody Journell. Also gone is Danny Coale who ended the season as the punter and looked so good that it was puzzling why he wasn't the guy all season. So there are a lot of fresh faces in the kicking game. Just as we have done for other positions, we continue our look into each position with the Kickers/Punters preview.

Kickers/Punters

#29 Scott Demler (r-Sr.) 5'11" 201 lbs.

As for Demler being the only one on this list with a jersey number, I wouldn't make too much of that. If Scott has recovered from his Bobby Peaslee-esque season, he may factor back into the conversation at punter. But it is actually pretty normal practice now to hold off awarding specialists with jersey numbers in the spring, even if they previously held one. With as many walk-ons that come to Virginia Tech and stick around, they usually hold off to hand out those coveted jersey numbers.

Michael Branthover (So.) 5'8" 197 lbs.

Having not witnessed a single live kicking/punting session this year, I will have to go with the word of someone that has. Luckily, such a person exists right under my nose: This site's very own Josh Parcell. Josh said in his analysis of a spring scrimmage last week, "Michael Branthover is fading fast as an option on field goals, but has taken a commanding lead in the punting competition. His lone field goal today was blocked (as was the case last week), but all three of his punts went 40-plus yards with good hangtime."

Branthover came into the spring as one of if not THE favorite for both spots. To hear he's struggling with kicking is disheartening considering we don't have the deepest group in the nation there (which is understatement of the year right there). Perhaps he's a more natural punter. Despite his size he has the ability for the ball to explode off his leg as he showed from time to time last year. His biggest issue is his consistency. If he can boom kicks like that regularly, expect him to get the job.

Conor Goulding (r-So.) 5'9" 183 lbs.

Again, I don't like to speculate on what I haven't seen, so back to borrowing (a.k.a. stealing) Mr. Parcell's take: "Conor Goulding took an impressive step forward today. After drilling kicks from as deep as 50 yards in warm-ups, he nailed all three of his field goal tries during the scrimmage. Now, it's important that he builds on his best showing to date, but it was a surprisingly positive output Saturday."

From what Josh has said and just based off of some observations, it appears the kicking job will be a three-horse race between Goulding, Branthover and Hutcheson. Right now it would appear Goulding has the lead, but we may not know the answer until fall practice. Additionally if Journell is somehow able to re-join the team it could make things interesting.

Ethan Keyserling (r-So.) 6'2" 205 lbs.

Keyserling is another little-known player. He is a punter but did not dress in 2011 and has yet to see any action. Again, I don't know much about Keyserling, but my money is still on Branthover.

Skyler Hutcheson (r-Fr.) 6'0" 200 lbs.

We know at least something about all of the kickers/punters except for maybe Skyler Hutcheson. But I was able to find a recruiting profile on him here.

Other tidbits

As far as Cody Journell's status/availability with the team, he is still suspended indefinitely per Virginia Tech policy after his arrest in December for breaking and entering. Not much will be known about Journell's situation before his court date, which is May 10.

Perhaps the biggest media story out of the kickers has been about Lauren Luttrell, a female kicker who wanted to try out for the team. She was unable to make the cut, but Beamer praised her for her technique. However, he and Associate Director of Athletics for Football Operations, John Ballein said she had to greatly increase her power if she wanted to kick in a collegiate game. Of course that was just a sampling of the media related to the Luttrell. There is much more literature around the web on her tryout if you feel so inclined to go after it.

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