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Alabama football: Top 5 impact players on special teams

Cedric Mason- Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Consistency is what coach Bobby Williams and Alabama will strive for on special teams this season. It’s removed from solid kickers like Leigh Tiffin and Jeremy Shelley, yet the Crimson Tide remains optimistic. A dynamic return specialist is the final piece Alabama needs.

Sophomore punter JK Scott proved to be larger than life in 2014. He looks to build off a productive freshman campaign, while junior kicker Adam Griffith will try to regain his confidence after finishing last season 12 of 19 on field goal attempts.

Yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine has compiled a list of the top five impact players for Alabama on special teams in 2015. A certain quarterback will appear in this discussion.

 

Alabama’s impact players on special teams

 

5. Bradley Sylve

  • Classification: Senior
  • Size: 6-foot, 180 pounds
  • Position: Cornerback

Summary: Bradley Sylve is considered by his teammates to be the fastest player on the roster. His 40-time is set to be in the upper 4.2s to sub 4.3s. He has issues playing the ball at times, despite having good recovery speed but being a return specialist could benefit Sylve.

He was a consensus four-star prospect upon enrolling at Alabama in 2011.

A native of Port Sulphur, La., Sylve returned a 91-yard kick for a touchdown in the Under Armour All-America Game. He was selected as one of the fastest players in the event.

Sophomore corner Tony Brown and true freshman Minkah Fitzpatrick are going to play this season. Brown expects to be a starter, opposite Cyrus Jones. With Fitzpatrick continuing to impress in fall camp, special teams could be Sylve’s only outlet to make huge plays.

He will see time in the secondary because of his experience, but having him as a kick return or punt return specialist would benefit Alabama.

 

4. Cooper Bateman 

  • Classification: Sophomore
  • Size: 6-foot-3, 220 pounds
  • Position: Quarterback

Summary: Cooper Bateman was one of the nation’s top quarterback prospects in 2013; however, his chances of winning this year’s competition are slim. If he isn’t chosen to call the shots, at least Bateman will continue his role on special teams as a holder. He saw action in all 14 games last season, securing 87 snaps (65 extra-points, 22 field goals).

 

3. Cole Mazza

  • Classification: Junior
  • Size: 6-foot-2, 240 pounds
  • Position: Long Snapper

Summary: The transition from Carson Tinker to Cole Mazza has been fruitful for Alabama. Mazza enters his third season at long snapper, after starting all 14 games in 2014.

He’s been perfect on 267 snaps (95 punts, 130 extra points and 42 field goals) in 27 career games. Mazza recorded four tackles on special teams last season, three came against LSU.

 

2. Adam Griffith

  • Classification: Junior
  • Size: 5-foot-10, 192 pounds
  • Position: Place Kicker

Summary: He was a perfect 7 of 7 on field goal attempts, until a back injury caused Adam Griffith to struggle last year. He would finished 12 of 19 on field goal tries, but averaged 61.4 yards on kickoffs with 17 touchbacks. Griffith finished second on the team in total points (89).

He enrolled at Alabama in 2012, as one of the top kicking prospects nationally.

A former three-star recruit, Griffith nailed two field goals (32 yards, 46 yards) for Calhoun (Ga.) High School in its Georgia 2A State Championship Game against Buford.

Fully healthy, Griffith looks to seize the moment this season.

 

  1. JK Scott
  • Classification: Sophomore
  • Size: 6-foot-5, 190 pounds
  • Position: Punter

Summary: JK Scott at No.1 should come as no surprise to anyone. He was the most valuable player in so many games last season. He led the nation in punting (48.0) and net punting average (44.7) as a true freshman. Scott dropped 31 of his 55 boots inside an opponents’ 20-yard line. He averaged 62.5 yards on 24 kickoffs with eight touchbacks.

Scott earned multiple All-American and Freshman All-American honors from ESPN, USA Today, Sporting News and Football Writers Association of America. 

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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