USC football players describe what animal they would be on football field
When it comes to the Ivy League’s new experimental kickoff rule, members of USC’s special teams want to kick it to the curb.
The new rule places kickoffs on the kicking team’s 40-yard line and touchbacks on the 20-yard line in an effort to increase touchbacks and reduce hard hits that might lead to concussions. It was approved by the NCAA on July 20 and will be enforced in Ivy League conference games only. Currently, kickoffs are placed at the 35-yard line and touchbacks begin at the 25-yard line.
As a candidate for All-SEC accolades and one of the best placekickers in Gamecocks history, senior Elliott Fry isn’t thrilled about the new rule because he expects it to lead to fewer returns.
“I think it definitely would take away from some of the game,” Fry said. “The kickoff has been in the game for so long. I obviously wouldn’t like to see it go, but I don’t really have much control over that. A kickoff return and all that can have a huge role on any game.”
Fry owns the USC record with 124 consecutive extra points made, and will have to pass the torch to a younger placekicker next season after he graduates.
Redshirt freshman kicker and punter Joseph Charlton, who missed the 2015 season with a back injury, is a candidate for the job and might even see some kickoff duties this season. The Columbia native was responsible for most of the kickoffs, punts and placekicking duties at A.C. Flora High and was ranked the 15th-best high school kicker in the nation by ESPN.
Similarly to Fry, he was not enthusiastic at the idea of a rule change either.
“I don’t think they should, because we need a position, too,” Charlton said. “I don’t think they should eliminate it because most kickers in college sports are kicking it in the end zone anyways.”
Charlton will be a backup punter behind senior veteran Sean Kelly, who averaged 44.3 yards per punt and ranked fourth in the SEC in punting average in 2015. Kelly hadn’t heard much about the rule change, but wasn’t excited about the potential of it catching on in the future.
“Kickoffs are the most exciting part of college football,” Kelly said. “I don’t know why you would want to get rid of it. I understand with concussions and everything, but I don’t know. That’s part of the game.”
While the Gamecock specialists weren’t too high on the idea of the NCAA toying with kickoffs, they said they’re not going to let the rule distract them from the upcoming season.
“(The team) expects us when we get out on the field, to produce,” Kelly said. “(Fry) has got to make a kick. I’ve got to make a punt. They expect to see that. That’s what we kind of base our leadership off of. Holding our team to the expectation that we’re going to do our job.”