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May 8, 2013

Kickers' experience showed this spring

By: Jimmy Robertson

There wasn’t too much to report on the kicking positions coming out of spring practice, as the Hokies returned both kicker Cody Journell and punter A.J. Hughes from last season’s team.

Journell and Brooks Abbott, who was the backup field-goal kicker last season as a true freshman, kicked well this spring. Journell got off to a bit of a slow start. He made a 35-yard and a 36-yard field goal in the first scrimmage, but in the second scrimmage, he missed twice from 47 yards. Yet in the final scrimmage, he drilled one from 55 yards, which easily would have been a career long.

Abbott made a 23-yarder in the second scrimmage and then connected on three field goals in the final scrimmage, making them from 27, 41 and 45 yards out. He’ll push Journell in the fall, and he may be the kickoff guy.

The kickoff job remains a bit up in the air. Beamer used three of them last year – Michael Branthover, Abbott and Journell – with varying degrees of success.

Hughes enjoyed an impressive final scrimmage, averaging 47.8 yards per punt in that one, and he averaged 41 yards per punt on six punts in the spring game. He goes into next fall as the leader for the punting job. Hunter Windmuller missed a chunk of spring practice, including the spring game, with a right quad injury.

“I’ve always said if we’ve got good kickers, we’re going to be good on special teams, and I think that’s the case,” Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “Having Cody back gives us confidence, and Brooks continues to improve his consistency.

“I think we’ve got good competition, and I think everybody gets better with more competition. So I like where we are.”

Joe St. Germain handled the snapping chores a year ago, but is being challenged by Eddie D’Antuano, a redshirt freshman. Also, Kyshoen Jarrett and Michael Holmes returned a lot of punts this spring, and one or both of them will probably be the punt returners next fall, though that depends on when Holmes gets his off-the-field issue settled.