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Boise State Spring Preview: Special Teams

The unit with the most to prove

Mountain West Championship - Fresno State v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

Special teams was a major area of weakness for the Boise State football team in 2018. The unit will have plenty to prove this upcoming season. Let’s break down the various units and get an idea of what to expect this coming season.

Punt Return/Kickoff Return

There is no shortage of talent or options in this department. The two returners will likely come down to three players: John Hightower, Avery Williams, and Khalil Shakir. All three of these players have the ability to be dynamic returners and all of them had great returns that were negated by poor blocks. This should be the strongest special teams unit; this squad has as much speed as any in recent memory.

Punt Coverage/Kickoff Coverage

This unit is difficult to preview. Boise State had the worst net punt average last season. Some of that can be attributed to poor kicking; some of the blame lies on poor coverage. Boise State tends to use some starters on these units. It will be interesting to see if they use more starters or continue to use mostly role players.


It was really bad last year. This is an important area to watch next year, because the special team needs to be better at flipping the field. The Broncos have a great talent coming in with true freshman Gavin Wale. Will he be ready to kick at this level, or does he need more time? If not, the punting responsibilities will likely rest with Joel Velazquez.

Field Goals/PATs

This is easily the biggest question mark on the team entering Spring ball. The kicking game has cost the Broncos countless games over the past decade and has become a running joke of opposing fans. Has Joel Velazquez finally done enough to seize the job, or will the Broncos be forced to rely on a walk-on or true freshman again? We know Velazquez has the leg, but does he he have the accuracy to be the starting kicker?

That does it for my Spring position previews. Keep an eye out for Spring recaps with an eye on the quarterback race.