Unfortunately, Clemson football has lost their star kicker Chandler Catanzaro to the Arizona Cardinals after the 2014 NFL draft. Catanzaro holds various team records including being the first player to start in 50 games and having the highest accuracy for field goals of 77.4 percent. Catanzaro kicked a game winning, 37-yard field goal with no time left to beat LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and proved to be one of Clemson’s all time greatest kickers. With Catanzaro now out of the picture, the starters on the 2014 special teams will have a massive hole to fill. Luckily, there is no shortage of experienced talent that is left on Clemson’s special teams.
Kicker- Ammon Lakip (5-foot-10, 200-pounds) Jr.
Lakip will step up to the starting position this season after spending two seasons as Catanzaro’s backup kicker. Rivals ranked Lakip as the #7 placekicker in the nation before he came to Clemson, but he took a redshirt year when he first arrived in 2011. The next season, he played sparingly but went 2-2 on extra points. In 2013, he was 1-2 on field goals and 6-6 on extra points. In his career, Lakip has scored 11 points in seven games, totaled 12 kickoffs, and also had a 42.0 punting yard average in the 2013 season. Although the team lost their standout kicker, Lakip has some game playing experience and has been training under Catanzaro for the past few years.
Kick Off Specialist- Bradley Pinion (6-foot-6, 230-pounds) Jr.
Pinion could be the next big star of the special teams. In high school, he was ranked as the #1 punter in the nation by 247sports and the #3 kicker in the nation by ESPN. He is a versatile and talented athlete who started all 13 games of the 2013 season as the punter and kickoff specialist. In the 2014 Orange Bowl, Pinion was named the co-special teams player-of-the-game, and he will get to continue to prove his talent as the starting kick off specialist. He may also back up Lakip at kicker if needed.
Punter- Bradley Pinion (6-foot-6, 230-pounds) Jr.
Pinion will remain as Clemson’s starting punter for the 2014 season. Pinion has had much success in his short time at Clemson. His 27 punts inside the 20 yard line ties for the most in Clemson history, and he will only be a junior. He has been steadily averaging 39.4-yard punts over the past two years and had one punt over 50 yards in 2012. With Pinion as the kick off specialist as well, he will be one of the most valuable assets of the special teams.
Punt Returner- Adam Humphries (5-foot-11, 190-pounds) Sr.
Humphries is no rookie when it comes to punt returns. He has started in 15 games since his freshman year, and has had 38 punt returns for a total of 298 yards in his career. In 2013, he was in the top 5 for punt return averages in the ACC. Humphries is a reliable receiver as well and has 97 total receptions for 893 yards and three touchdowns. He adds much needed experience to the special teams.
Kick Returner- Charone Peake (6-foot-2, 205-pounds) Jr.
Previous high school teammate of Humphries, Peake will be returning from a torn ACL to be the starting kick returner. Peake was off to a good start with 8 receptions in two games for 84 yards and a touchdown before his season ending injury in 2013. To date, he has 37 receptions for 327 yards and has three touchdowns and four starts in his career. Peake started playing as a true freshman and had two kickoff returns for 22 yards in his first season at Clemson.
In high school, ESPN ranked Peake as the #14 player in the nation and the #2 wide receiver. He played in the Shrine Bowl and the U.S. Army All-American game.
He has also been named a starting wide receiver for the upcoming season alongside Humphries. His height will be a beneficial aspect for both receiving and kick returning. However, with his recent injury, it wouldn’t be surprising if T.J Green or running back C.J. Davidson get playing time at kick returner as well. Davidson came to Clemson on a track scholarship, so his speed could aid the kickoff returns.
Long Snapper- Michael Sobeski (6-foot-2, 220-pounds) Sr.
Dorman High School must have sent Clemson their entire special teams as that is where long snapper starter Sobeski and fellow teammates Peake and Humphries all reside from. Sobeski was originally a walk-on and has been one of the leading long snappers at Clemson for the past couple of years. He has been the long snapper for almost every placekick for his last three years at Clemson and will continue to be the starting long snapper this season.