Last but certainly not least in our football position previews, is the Bulls' special teams unit. Special teams is just as important during a game as offense or defense is; the special teamers can flip field position and can be the difference between winning and losing a game. UB lost kicker Patrick Clarke this offseason due to graduation and there will be a new face on kicking duties while there will be a familiar pair of faces in the other specialist positions.
Kicker - Adam Mitcheson, R-Fr., 6-1, 187 - Patrick Clarke's replacement, Mitcheson redshirted last season and will take over kickoff, field goal and extra point duties. Mitcheson will have the unenviable task of being a young guy that has to shoulder a great amount responsibility at one of the most important positions on the field. However, MItcheson won field goal accuracy and length competitions while in high school and was 12 of 16 with a long of 50 yards his senior season. Mitcheson did kick in Pennsylvania so he is no stranger to the elements, but kicking in the Buffalo wind is a whole different beast. Mitcheson is one of the biggest question marks on this team coming into the season; if he is able to hit field goals consistently then he will become a valuable asset, if he struggles with accuracy, much like his predecessor Clarke, then the Bulls could be in trouble.
Punter - Tyler Grassman, Sr., 6-0, 192 - Grassman snagged the starting punting job during his freshman season and hasn't looked back since. Over the past two seasons he has averaged over 40 yards per punt, an invaluable asset when the offense may sputter at times. Grassman has the ability to flip the field and pin the opponent back deep in their own territory, giving the advantage to the UB defense. He may not have the longest punts in the MAC, but where Grassman excels the most is his ability to limit returns. Last season only 9 of his 50 punts were returned for only a measly 32 yards (and one return was for 16 yards so 8 of the returns combined for 16 yards). For his efforts Grassman was named to the Ray Guy Award Watchlist for the Nation's top punter. Expect Grassman to continue his solid play through his senior season, he's been a dependable player during his entire tenure and there's no reason to think otherwise for this season. #PuntersArePeopleToo
Long Snapper - Corbin Grassman, Jr., 6-2, 200 - Normally, you don't talk about your team's long snapper unless he botches snaps and has serious errors; luckily, we haven't had to talk about Corbin Grassman in that light during his tenure at UB. The long snapper is a thankless job that largely goes unnoticed to the untrained eye, but Grassman has done an excellent job after taking over the long snapping duties during his freshman campaign. It wasn't until about a week or so ago that Corbin's cousin Tyler posted a video of him snapping a ball across the locker room and knocking a Gatorade bottle clean off of Tyler's head, that Corbin started being talked about. Then, Tyler posted another video of Corbin snapping a ball from the 300 level of UB Stadium into a trash can on the field below and he went even more viral on the web. Corbin was on ESPN, BleacherReport, NFL.com, among other major outlets and he had suddenly become a star. And while the other MAC long snappers futilely try to replicate the viral success of Corbin, we all can take solace in the fact that our long snapper is better than all the rest. Oh, and the viral videos are a great marketing tool for a guy looking to play in the NFL where there are only 32 spots available.
So that wraps up the football positional previews - I hope these have been helpful and allowed you to get a better insight into the depth and talent on the roster, and maybe even formulate a picture for what the starting lineup will look like week one against Albany. Be sure to check out any of the other positions that were covered over the past week, and to check out the Olympic team previews which were also posted last week.
Football Positional Previews:
Olympic Team Previews: