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Courtesy: Athletics Communications

2011 Spring Football Outlook: Special Teams

Release: 03/21/2011
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Editor's note: This is the final installment of an eight-part series taking a quick look at the Iowa State football team position by position heading into spring practice. A review of special teams is below. Click the "play" link in the photo above to see an interview with head coach Paul Rhoads. Links to other position breakdowns can be found at the bottom of the page.


Pre-Spring Special Teams Depth Chart

Kickoff/Punt Returners
23  ***Leonard Johnson, 5-10, 196, Sr.
19  **Josh Lenz, 6-0, 196, Jr.
21  *Shontrelle Johnson, 5-9, 180, So.

Deep Snapper
46  ***Dakota Zimmerman, 6-1, 240, Sr.

8  Brett Bueker, 6-4, 237, Jr.#


21  ***Grant Mahoney, 6-0, 180, Sr.
25  Zach Guyer, 6-3, 198, Sr.

13  *Kirby Van Der Kamp, 6-4, 198, So.


Grant Mahoney had an up and down season. The senior put together a streak of seven straight successful field-goal attempts last season before making just one of his last nine tries. It should be noted that seven of those attempts came from at least 45 yards. His 57-yarder against Nebraska last season was the fourth-longest make in school history, the longest successful kick in the Big 12 last season and the second-longest in the country in 2010.

Mahoney had 16 touchbacks on kickoffs last season. He has made 91 of his 96 career extra-point tries. His 205 career points rank him eighth in Iowa State career history. Zach Guyer is Mahoney’s back-up.

Kirby Van Der Kamp could not have had a better freshman season as Iowa State’s punter last season. He was named a first-team freshman All-American with good reason. His average of 45.2 yards per kick ranked second in Iowa State history and in the Big 12 Conference last fall. He ranked ninth nationally in that category. Van Der Kamp’s season was about more than just average yards per punt. The Cyclone dropped 22 punts inside opponents’ 20-yard lines. He had 19 kicks of 50 or more yards.  His efforts came whether the wind was behind him or in his face.

Rhoads has returning kick returners. Sophomore Shontrelle Johnson led the team, averaging 23.4 yards per kickoff return last season.  He had a long of 62 yards. Josh Lenz has a kickoff return career return average of 25.1 yards. Lenz averaged 10.4 yards per punt return last season.
Dakota Zimmerman has had a solid career as Iowa State’s deep snapper.


Rhoads on placekicker Grant Mahoney:
“I had high expectations for Grant Mahoney a year ago because I believe that he’s a good football player. He didn’t back that up last year. I expect him to rebound in his senior season and be able to kick as well as anybody in the Big 12. As our fans know, I am not hesitant to put him out there to kick from  45, 50 and 55-yard distances. Where you have to be solid with your kicking game is from 40 yards in. You’ve got to be very consistent. You have to hit the 90 percent and above margin. Grant has got to become really solid in 2011.”

Rhoads on punter Kirby Van Der Kamp:
“I think any time you come in and have such success as a true freshman like Kirby did, the challenge is ‘what do I do to improve, how much can I improve’. I sat Kirby down and talked to him about exactly that topic. I told Kirby that he has a chance to leave Iowa State University as the most prolific punter in the history of the school. You do that and you have the chance to earn awards and keep playing this game on Sunday after college.
People don’t understand all there is to being a good punter. In addition to distance, the short punts matter as well. It’s the punts inside the 50, how many times can you pin an opponent inside their 20, or even their 10. You’ve got to hone that craft. Punting into the wind is an art in this part of the country and certainly in Jack Trice Stadium. In Iowa City last year Kirby was punting into the wind and his numbers weren’t fantastic. But he did a great job of punting the ball that day and hitting it and driving it. Those are the kinds of things that a young guy, even though he played so well as a freshman, needs to continue to improve upon.”

Rhoads on deep snapper Dakota Zimmerman:
“We have Dakota Zimmerman coming back for his senior season.  Dakota is coming off an offseason knee injury and will be very limited as we go through spring drills. Dakota has great velocity on his football, he’s very accurate. He’s limited athletically going down the field and covering punts because of knee issues. Every day he is out there laying it on the line for our football team, which is very admirable in my eyes.”

Rhoads on the returners:
“The return game has a chance to explode in 2011. Special teams can get you a leg up on an opponent at the college level. I think your punt coverage units, your kickoff coverage units, can be good with good preparation and great effort by the kids. You have to have return guys to really excel in the kickoff return and punt return game. We’ve got a number of guys that our fans haven’t seen yet in Jarvis West and in Aaron Horne. Jeremy Reeves could fill those spots to cause great excitement. We have returners in Darius Reynolds and Josh Lenz that have already made their mark.”

Rhoads on the coverage units:
“In 2009 our kickoff coverage units and punt coverage units were as fine as there were in the country. We dropped off a little bit in 2010. I expect to see them rise back to those 2009 levels because we’re going to have a number of redshirt freshmen and third-year players that give us the depth we need. I’m talking about guys like Adrian Bennett and C.J. Morgan coming off freshmen redshirt seasons. Jeremiah George is a year older and guys like Walker Woods, Wes Boyer and Tyler Leo will be in a position to compete for jobs on these units.”

Other position breakdowns
- Defensive Backs: March 18
- Linebackers: March 17
- Defensive Line: March 16
- Offensive Line: March 15
- Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: March 14
- Running backs: March 11
- Quarterbacks: March 10

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