2012 CFN All-America Special Teamers

Posted Jun 10, 2012

The best and the brightest kickers, punters, punt returners and kickoff returners going into the season.

Preview 2012

All-America Special Teams

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- 2012 CFN All-America Teams
1st Team Offense | 2nd Team Offense | 3rd Team Offense 
1st Team Defense | 2nd Team Defense | 3rd Team Defense | Special Teamers

Note: This isn't a ranking of the top pro prospects. This is based on the seasons we think the players are going to have.


Placekicker -  Quinn Sharp, Sr. Oklahoma State

Known as a top punter, Sharp was supposed to be a step back from Lou Groza winner Dan Bailey, who hit 27-of-31 field goals. Not only did Sharp produce, but was Bailey-like connecting on 22-of-25 field goals while showing decent range. What he didn't do was blast away from beyond 50 yards like Bailey did, but leg strength isn't an issue with a nation-leading 61 touchbacks. The high-powered offense gave Sharp plenty of chances, but still, to be the best kickoff specialist in all of college football for the last three years, and to put 23 more in the end zone than anyone else last season, is jaw-dropping.

Kick Returner -  Raheem Mostert, Soph. Purdue

The wide receiver didn't catch a pass in his true freshman season, but he ran for 108 yards and two scores on 16 carries and he grew into the best kickoff returner in college football. He took over the job in the fourth game of the year and cranked out 96 yards on four tries against Notre Dame, and he didn't stop averaging 33.48 per try with three touchdowns highlighted by a return for a score in the bowl win over Western Michigan. With his speed and ability, the 5-11, 180-pounder out of Orlando will be used more on offense this year, too.

Punter -  Bobby Cowan, Sr. Idaho

Cowan is a 6-5, 229-pound blaster who averaged 46.4 yards per kick while putting 17 inside the 20 and forcing 27 fair catches. If he's not the best punter in America, he'll be a close second and will be on the short list of Ray Guy candidates.

Punt Returner -  Dustin Harris, Sr. Texas A&M

Harris was fantastic on punt returns averaging 18.6 yards per try with a score, while he dominated as a kickoff returner averaging 23.4 yards per try. He'll handle all the duties again.


Placekicker -  Caleb Sturgis, Sr. Florida

Back to be in the mix for All-America honors and the Lou Groza award is Sturgis, a Groza finalist who returned from a back injury to nail 22-of-26 field goals including a 55-yard bomb against Furman. With a great leg and ultra-reliable, he'll win the Gators at least one key game.

Kick Returner - De'Anthony Thomas, Soph. Oregon

If there's a more electrifying special teams weapon in the game, he's probably no longer an amateur. Thomas took the Pac-12 by storm in 2011, his first out of high school, leading the league in kickoff returns with an average of 27.3 yards and showing breathtaking ability every time he touched the ball. He was one of just 11 players in the FBS to take at least two back for six, burning Washington State and USC from long range. Thomas gets to top gear so fast, and has such good vision in the open field that it forces the opposition to rethink its strategy on kickoffs.

Punter -  Quinn Sharp, Sr. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys didn't punt all that often, but when they did, Sharp was fantastic helping the team led the Big 12 by averaging 46.3 yards per kick. While the eight touchbacks were a bit too many, and the 12 put inside the 20 weren't enough, he's still the best punter in the history of Oklahoma State football averaging more than 46 yards per boot over the last two seasons. This year he'll be one of the favorites for the Ray Guy award.
Punt Returner - Jamal Miles, Sr. Arizona State

Arizona State boasts one of the country's most dangerous return men. Shifty and blazing fast, he took three back for touchdowns a year ago, two on kickoffs and one on a punt. He's one of those unique weapons who can change the mood of a game with one seam or one timely block. The program's most versatile player. The elusive 5-10, 180-pounder is difficult to classify because he does so many things well. A year ago, for instance, he caught 60 passes for 361 yards and six touchdowns, averaged 8.2 yards on 29 carries and was All-Pac-12 as a punt returner. The staff has to do a better job of getting him in space on vertical routes this fall.


Placekicker -  Jack Griffin, Sr. FIU

There were few kickers as strong as Griffin last season following up a great 2010 – hitting 17-of-20 field goals – by nailing 22-of-26 shots including 6-of-8 from beyond 40 yards. One miss was from 52 yards out, and while there were a few gaffes in the middle of the year, he was one of the nation's steadiest bombers. Clutch, he can be counted on late, and he can also punt if needed.

Kick Returner -  Tyler Lockett, Jr. Kansas State

Lockett had a huge season as a kickoff returner averaging 35.2 yards per try with two touchdowns, and he wasn't miserable on punt returns averaging 6.3 yards per attempt. The 5-11, 175-pound speedster and Big 12 Offensive Freshman on the Year in 2010 caught 18 passes for 246 yards and three scores, but he suffered a lacerated kidney and missed the final four games of the season, and he was dinged up this offseason, but he has the deep speed to stretch the field more and the talent to be used from time to time as a runner after handling the ball ten times for 110 yards with a 57-yard dash against Oklahoma State.

Punter -  Ryan Allen, Sr. Louisiana Tech

The punting game was special finishing eighth in the nation with Allen averaging a whopping 46.1 yards per kick with a ridiculous 39 put inside the 20 and with 28 fair catches on the way to winning the Ray Guy Award. The former Oregon State Beaver is tremendous with his accuracy and he has a booming leg cranking out 29 kicks of more than 50 yards.

Punt Returner -  Tavon Austin, Sr. West Virginia

Austin is one of the best all-around returners in college football averaging 14.1 yards per punt return and 26.1 yards per kickoff return with two scores.