Michigan State Football: All-time 10 Best Special Teams Players

This top ten segment will cover the best 10 special teams players in the history of Michigan State football, whether it be kickers, punters, kick returners, or punt returners. There have been many excellent kickers and punters, including Brett Swenson and Aaron Bates who cracked my top 10. Michigan State hasn’t had many spectacular punt returners, but the most recent, Keshawn Martin, ranks as one of the best all-around players in Spartan football history.

Rank Player Bio




John Langeloh (1987-90 – His 57 career field goals and his 137 career extra points both rank third in school history. In 1988, Langeloh made five field goals against Wisconsin, which is tied for third in school history. His 10 extra points against Northwestern in 1989 rank first in school history. In 1987, Langeloh made 17/24 field goals, while in 1988 he was 18/27. John Langeloh received All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors in 1987 and 1989, and was a coaches first-team All-Big Ten Selection in 1990.


Brandon Fields (2003-06) – His punting average of 45 yards on 209 punts ranks second in school history. The All-American averaged 47.9 yards per punt in 2004 as a sophomore, a single-season school record. He booted 23 of his punts 50 or more yards and hit punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. The 6-foot-6, 234-pound punter averaged 54 yards on three punts vs. Ohio State, including a 62-yarder that was downed at the OSU 1-yard line in the third quarter. Fields was selected in the seventh round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins.


DeAndra Cobb (2003-04) – The 2003 All-American returned 28 kicks for 763 yards and three touchdowns. His three kick-off return touchdowns tied the NCAA I-A single-season record. His 100-yard kick-off return against Minnesota tied the Spartan record for longest return. Also in 2003, Cobb returned 5 kickoffs for 167 yards and a touchdown against Ohio State. In his two-year career, Cobb returned 64 kicks for 1,632 yards and four touchdowns, which ranks third in school history. Cobb’s 25.5-yard average on kick returns ranks sixth on the Big-Ten’s all-time list. Cobb was selected in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL Draft.


Aaron Bates (2007-10) – The punter played in all 52 games in his Spartan career as the starting punter and holder. Bates ranks seventh in Spartan history with a career average of 42 yards per punt. He placed 85 of his 260 career punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. But all Spartan fans will remember Bates for his throwing ability. The punter went 3-for-3 during his career, including his touchdown pass to Charlie Gantt in overtime against Notre Dame in 2010. He also completed a pass on a fake punt against Northwestern that season to freshman Bennie Fowler in the Spartans thrilling comeback. In the 2010 Alamo Bowl, Bates completed an 18-yard pass to Gantt on a fake field goal. Bates signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in July of 2011.


Dave Rayner (2001-04) – His 62 career field goals and his 148 career extra points both rank second in school history. In 2003, Rayner made 22/29 field goals, while in 2004 was 22/31. At the time that Rayner graduated, he was the school’s all-time leading scorer with 334 points. Rayner was a Big-Ten Honorable Mention Selection in 2003 and a second-team All-Big Ten Consensus Selection in 2004. He was selected in the 2005 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts.


Gari Scott (1996-99) – His 1,088 (84 returns) career punt return yards ranks at the top of the charts in school history. His 488 punt return yards in 1999 and his 440 punt return yards in 1998 rank first and second in school history, respectively. Scott was selected in the 2000 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.


Herb Haygood (1998-01) – Haygood returned 76 kickoffs for 1,770 yards, which ranks second in school history. Haygood received second-team All-Big Ten Consensus honors in 2001, returning 24 kicks for 632 yards, which ranks eighth in Spartan history. He was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 2002 NFL Draft.


Brett Swenson (2006-09) – Swenson’s 71 field goals and 164 extra points both rank first in school history. In 2008, Swenson made 22/28 field goals, while in 2009 he was 19/22. In 2007, Swenson made 53 extra points, which ranks first in Spartan history. His 44 field goals in 2009 rank third in Spartan history. There were three different games during Swenson’s career when he made four field goals each (Purdue 2009, Wisconsin 2008, Indiana 2008). Swenson was an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2006, a second-team selection in 2008, and first-team selection in 2009. Swenson was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Indianapolis Colts in 2010.


Keshawn Martin (2008-11) – Martin ranks second in punt return yards with 659 on 65 returns, while his 1,100 kick return yards rank eight in Spartan history. Martin had 17 total touchdowns in his career; 10 receptions, three rush, two punt returns, one pass, and one kick return. Martin is just one of three players in school history to return two punts for touchdowns. Martin was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans.


Derrick Mason (1993-96) – His 2,575 kick return yards rank way ahead of anyone else in Spartan history. In 1994, Mason returned 36 kicks for 966 yards, while in 1995 he returned 35 kicks for 947 yards, which rank second and third in Spartan history, respectively. In 1995, Mason was an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention Selection. In 1996, he was a second-team All-Big Ten Selection as voted by coaches. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Oilers and spent fifteen seasons in the NFL.

Also, be sure to check out the rest of Best of Michigan State Football series:


Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Defensive Line


Defensive Backs

  • Dave Conley

    Montgomery and Anderson are absolutely criminal omissions. Not to mention an old timer named Lynn Chandnois, an absolute stud as a returner and two-way player. After college, he posted the second-best kickoff return average in NFL history.

  • PhillySparty

    no greg montgomery or morten anderson?