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San Diego State Football: Previewing the Aztecs' 2014-15 special teams

This unit left a lot to be desired last year. SDSU players, coaches and fans alike hope that changes this year.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Key Departures: The fear of missing a PAT and a field goal outside 15 yards. Those days will not be missed.

There's no way that San Diego State's kicking could be as bad as last year. At least, SDSU certainly hopes not, or else it has a long year ahead of it. The kicking position doesn't win games but it can easily lose them, and for the Aztecs and their high aspirations,  their kicking definitely needs to improve.  The Aztecs' coaching staff did their best to address kicking and special teams this offseason.

PUNTER (P)

77 Joel Alesi, 6'0" 235 pounds, Senior

Alesi is the returning starter from last season and was the lone bright spot for their kicking game last year. His experience and previous success should help him maintain his position in an otherwise fluctuating kicking game. Last year, he accumulated 53 punts for 2,089 yards (39.42 avg.), statistics that earned him his candidacy for the Ray Guy Award last year. If all goes to plan, which is a big if with this team, expect to see him in the discussion for the award again by season's end.

KICKER (K)

#29 John Baron II, 5'11" 175 pounds, Freshman

Rated as 2014's 15th-best kicker and labeled with the strongest kickoff leg in the country by ESPN, Baron and his addition to the team should give some continuity to the kicking position for the foreseeable future. He was a great under-the-radar addition for a team that was holding open tryouts for the position nine months ago. SDSU hopes he can couple his power with accuracy in the coming years.

#59 Donald Hageman, 6'1" 170 pounds, Junior transfer

This transfer recruit played two years at Mt. San Antonio College and was a first-team All-Central Conference kicker and punter. He made 19-of-20 field goal attempts and 54-of-56 PAT's for 111 points in an award-winning final season before signing with the Aztecs. He will bring competition and depth to a weak position.

#17 Seamus McMorrow, 5'11" 195 pounds, Junior

The kickoff specialist for the team last year returns after a good season in this slot and showing great power with his 51 touchbacks in 116 kickoffs (44.0 percent), averaging 62.4 yards per attempt. His field goal skills, however, need great improvement: he went 0-4 in field goal attempts last year. New year, new season. McMorrow has another chance to succeed as starting kicker.

Kick/Punt Returner

This position will be more of a returner-by-committee behind Ezell Ruffin who will take the majority of returns and fits the mold of what is expected from this role. His athleticism and explosiveness make him a threat to score any time he touches the ball and will get him some serious action as the go-to guy for the Aztecs. Expect to see any number of players--perhaps from the multitude of SDSU's running backs and wide receivers--given a look at this position to give Ruffin some rest.

HOLDER (H)

#12 Brad Odeman, 6'3" 220 pounds, Junior transfer

The number-three quarterback on the depth chart is also listed as the number-one holder for the placekicker.

LONG SNAPPER (LS)

#60 Jeff Overbaugh, 6'2", 235 pounds, Junior

The long snapper of the last 26 games for the Aztecs, expect to see him in on every punt for the Aztecs.