Photo by Mike Schumann / The Daily Hoosier

Indiana football 2020 position preview: The specialists

The Daily Hoosier is previewing each position group during the final days leading up to the opening kickoff of the 2020 Indiana University football season on October 24 against Penn State in Bloomington.

In our final profile we take a look at the specialists.


Former safeties coach Kasey Teegardin takes over as the special teams coordinator in 2020 for the departed William Inge.  Teegardin has been with the program since 2014.

The 2020 specialists are for the most part a group of returning veterans.

The lone exception is perhaps the highest profile position — placekicker.

PLACEKICKER

Charles Campbell is the new field goal and extra point kicker for IU in 2020, replacing the outgoing Logan Justus.

Hoosier fans might remember Campbell, who was called on by head coach Tom Allen to kick a 4th quarter field goal against Purdue in 2019.  Without Campbell’s clutch 41 yard kick off the bench, the Old Oaken Bucket would likely still reside in West Lafayette.

The redshirt sophomore from Jackson, Tenn. is 2-of-2 on field goals and 1-of-1 on extra points for his IU career.  A three-time all-state selection, Campbell was ranked the No. 5 kicker nationally by Rivals and the No. 31 prospect in Tennessee by ESPN.

Campbell will be backed up by redshirt junior Jack Cardillo.

KICKOFFS

Jared Smolar will be the kickoff specialist.  The Valparaiso, Ind. product averaged 62.2 yards on 24 kickoffs with 19 touchbacks (79.2 percent).  Against Nebraska Smolar kicked off five times and recorded four touchbacks with a 62.4 average, earning special teams player of the week honors.

True freshman Chris Freeman from Zionsville, Ind. will be the backup.

PUNTER

Haydon Whitehead returns for a sixth season.  In 2019 Whitehead was honorable mention All-Big Ten and IU’s Most Outstanding Specialist of the Year after averaging a career high 42.5 yards per punt.  That was the seventh best single season average all-time for an IU punter.

For his career, Whitehead owns a 41.0 average, good for fifth in program history, Whitehead has pinned 72 punts inside the 20-yard line (38.5 percent), 36 inside the 10 (19.3) and 14 inside the 5 (7.5).

Redshirt sophomore Chase Wyatt from Noblesville, Ind. is the backup.

KICKOFF RETURNS

Sophomore David Ellis is once again the primary kickoff returner, a job he handled as a true freshman in 2019.  Ellis returned 28 kicks for 579 yards (20.7 average).  The yardage ranked third nationally among true freshmen, fifth in the Big Ten, 12th in IU single-season history and 27th nationally.

Running back Ahrod Lloyd will also take on some of the kickoff return duties.

PUNT RETURNS

Reese Taylor and Whop Philyor were both listed on the depth chart as punt returners.  Indiana will be looking for more than they got out of the dynamic playmakers in 2019.

Taylor was originally expected to be the primary punt returner in 2019, but a hand injury derailed those plans.  He returned 1 punt for 10 yards in 2019.

Philyor returned 15 punts for 49 yards in 2019.

LONG SNAPPER AND HOLDER

Sophomore Sean Wracher returns as the starting long snapper, with Jake Wellmann as the backup.

Whitehead and Wyatt will handle the first and second string holding duties.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

Campbell on his range, and confidence after the Purdue game —

“Out on the field by myself, I can hit from around 63 yards,” Campbell said.  “If the wind is blowing at my back and it is good outside, warm, maybe 65. We will see. I always like to stretch the distance a little bit to see how far I can go back in practice.”

“I think that kick (against Purdue) helped me tremendously. I came in and did not get to play that much. I went out and hit a big field goal and that lifted the weight of the world off my shoulders. It told me that I could go out there and hit big kicks. It really brought my confidence up from that game.”


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