Nick Saban wants no excuse to not win a national championship next fall.
He brought in a top-ranked signing class, hired a bunch of veteran coaches, and has possibly solved an issue that has plagued the University of Alabama since 2013.
Jeremy Shelley (2012) was the last confident and consistent (positive) placekicker the Crimson Tide.
He excelled in everything, making all 11 of his field goals and all 69 of his points after touchdowns. Shelley had a strong leg on kickoffs and was special in the 2012 BCS national title game (2011 season), hitting five of seven kicks in a 21-0 win over LSU.
While it has not boasted a player of Shelley’s caliber in a few years, Saban decided to bring in two kicking gurus on staff as quality control coaches for special teams.
According to a report from Bruce Feldman of The Athletic and Fox Sports on Thursday, Joe Houston (formerly of Iowa State) and Jonathan Galante (formerly of Virginia Tech) have both been hired to assist second-year coach Jeff Banks with the kicking game.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) February 21, 2019
Houston was the special teams’ coordinator for the Cyclones last season, helping Connor Assalley make 16 of 23 kicks – 70 percent – and nail 36 of 38 extra points.
He was a quality control coach prior to the opportunity, aiding both Cole Netten (2016) and Garrett Owens (2017) in getting their careers on track. Netten made 16 of 17 field goals and 35 of 37 extra points, both of which net an average of 90 percent or better.
Owens made all 45 of his extra points in 2017, while connecting on 17 of 22 kicks – good for 77.3 percent for Iowa State.
Houston was a kicker himself in college, donning the uniform at University of Southern California under Pete Carroll.
He made all 43 of his extra points as a senior in 2010.
As for Galante, he was walk-on at Virginia Tech from 2014-16.
He was a graduate assistant and special teams’ coach the last three seasons – guiding both Joey Slye (2017) and Brian Johnson (2018) to perfection on their extra points.
Alabama returns a redshirt sophomore in Joseph Bulovas and signed the No. 1 kicker for this year’s class in three-star, Will Reichard from Hoover, Ala. Despite being decent on field goals, nailing 14 of 18 for a 77.8% average, Bulovas missed six extra points in 2018.
The competition between he and Reichard will be interesting to watch, especially with the freshman having glowing reviews from both Chris Sailer’s and Kohl’s Kicking Camp competitions before arriving at the Capstone. Reichard made nine of 13 field goals during his senior season, including a long of 54 yards.
He drilled a couple of 50+ yard attempts in the rain at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game, so the young man is highly capable in big moments.
Getting two specialists in to help Banks is huge for the Tide.
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