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2021 Iowa State Football Position Previews: Special Teams

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PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Oregon v Iowa State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I’m not entirely sure why they let CYHusker handle the special teams preview. I mean, have you SEEN me tweet about Iowa State’s special teams??

Departures

Punter Joe Rivera is the only departure from the room, but his role will be important to fill. His career was largely unheralded, but he did a solid job as the starting punter averaging exactly 40.6 yards per punt in both 2019 and 2020.

New Guys

Iowa State added a key veteran player to this group in Andrew Mevis. Mevis, a senior graduate transfer from Fordham and Warsaw, ID native, should not only compete at placekicker, but can possibly handle kickoffs and also punt if needed. Mevis kicked the ball off 63 times in 2019 and had 50 touchbacks, compared to Drake Nettles and Cameron Shook, who each had 2 touchbacks in 2020. Mevis did not play in 2020, as Fordham canceled their season.

Leader of the Pack

...

Connor Assalley?

In all seriousness, Butt Boulevard has performed admirably over his 3 seasons as Iowa State’s place kicker. In 2020, he made 13-of-19 field goals and 48-of-50 PAT, good for 68% and 96%, respectively. Per Cyclones.com, he enters his super senior season with the fourth-best field goal percentage (72.1%, 44-61), the third-most field goals (44) and the second-most extra points (133) in school history.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 19 Big 12 Championship - Oklahoma v Iowa State Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Long snappers Koby Hathcock and Connor Guess return as well, and both were solid and steady in 2020.

Backups

Most expect there to be open competition between Mevis and Assalley, and there may even be competition at punter as well.

Corey Dunn was the backup punter in 2020. The Australian missed all of 2019 with a leg injury, and appeared in 3 games. He was also used to occasionally drop kick on kickoffs in 2020.

Drake Nettles and Cameron Shook both also return. Nettles handled kickoff duties for the second half of the season, and had the awesome pooch kick that was recovered in the Fiesta Bowl. He is also a backup place kicker. Shook can also serve as a backup punter in addition to being a kickoff specialist.

2021 Prediction

My bold prediction is that Iowa State will NOT cover more kicks than anyone else in college football in 2021.

On a related note, I picture a raucous standing ovation the first time Mevis kicks the football out of the end zone. Hell, there may be an ovation EVERY time he kicks it out of the end zone.

It seems to me that Mevis is a lock to be the kickoff specialist, but it would not surprise me to see him handle some placekicking duties in place of Assalley should he begin to struggle. Corey Dunn is likely to be the punter, but again, Mevis could also wind up being the main man with Dunn punting situationally (or rugby style).

Continuity is great to have at the kicker and punter positions, so fans should feel (somewhat) comfortable with what returns. Mevis adds excitement, as he has the potential to impact the kicking game in all 3 phases.