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2019 Alabama Crimson Tide Spring Football Unit Previews: Special Teams

Can the Tide finally have all three phases of the game clicking at once?

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Orange Bowl-Alabama vs Oklahoma
Joseph Bulovas to be challenged by a newcomer.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Hope springs eternal in the human breast.
~An Essay on Man (1734) by Alexander Pope

I hope we finally can get a kicker worth a ****.
~Every other Gump (Spring 2019)


At this point in his career, it is hard to argue that Nick Saban is not one of the best - if not the greatest - football coach of all time. But he is not without flaw. For some reason, he cannot perfect the field goal kicking aspect of the game. In recent years, Saban has been adding top-ranked kickers to his rosters but there always some strange voodoo that bites him in the Achille’s heel. However as Mr. Pope emoted, there is hope.


Alabama has been blessed over the years with some pretty darn good punters: Lane Bearden, P.J. Fitzgerald, Cody Mandell, and JK Scott to name a few. But suddenly, the Tide has a blackhole at the position. Saban has made a regular practice of signing kickers and punters instead of the old ways of granddaddy of pinning hopes on the walk-ons.


Here again, Saban has taken to signing long-snappers instead of picking one out of the student body, and it seems to be working.


The return game did not make too many highlight reels in 2018, which is both a good thing and bad thing. Alabama fans did not witness as many spectacular returns that they had become accustom to in recent years. Josh Jacobs had a few good kickoff returns and Jaylen Waddle had a 63-yard punt return against Louisiana, but there were not many game-changers. On the flip side, there was a reduced amount of muffs that sometime goes with that part of the game.


Austin Jones - This grad-transfer from Temple was an epic fail. After starting the season as the No. 1 placekicker, Jones proceeded to miss one of two field goals and 3 PATs in the first two games and found himself a nice comfortable spot on the bench for the remaining of the season. Now let’s never speak of him ever again.


Scott Meyer - The rising walk-on junior was the primary snapper on PAT and field goal attempts in 2017 while then-freshman Thomas Fletcher snapped on punts. Last season, Fletcher took over both duties. Meyer entered his name into the Transfer Portal but as of this writing is still on the Alabama roster and practicing with the team. He has value as a just-in-case back-up.


Jeff Banks - A year ago, Saban brought in Banks to be the Special Teams Coordinator. He had a rough inaugural year but he worked with what he was given.

Skyler DeLong P - One of the top punting prospects coming out of high school, the rising sophomore won the job in fall camp but was less than spectacular in first half of the season and was replaced. He averaged 34.44 yds per punt on 16 boots.

Mike Bernier P - This walk-on transfer was believed to be a senior last year but has qualified for one more season. He was named the starting punter before the Tennessee game and was only slightly better then his predecessor at 38.04 ypp. He had one kick blocked against Auburn and will have more if he cannot speed up his motion.

Joseph Bulovas PK - Another performer in this ongoing soap opera, the redshirt sophomore was beat out in camp by Austin Jones, but took over the starring role after the aforementioned kicker faltered. Bulovas was 14 of 18 on field goals with a long of 49 on the year, but he missed 5 PATs. On a positive note from the Iron Bowl on out into three post-season games, he was perfect connecting on 3 field goals and 19 extra points. He missed his only chance at a field goal of over 50 yards, and Saban seemed to have a reluctance to let him try any other such attempts. Maybe that is a good thing.

Thomas Fletcher LS - Full-time snapper has had no issues and should be solid for 2019.

Jaylen Waddle KR - The dynamic playmaker has yet to return one to the house but 2019 is the year!


Will Reichard PK - The nation’s No. 1 kicking prospect from Hoover, AL will be expected to challenge both Bulovas and the punters. Alas as Alabama fans, we are skeptical. I will believe it when I see it.

Tripp Slyman PK - The walk-on from Huntsville (Randolph HS) is listed as a sophomore but was not on the roster last year. Ya never know...

Jake Hall LS - Walk-on from Saraland, AL, hopefully it will never come down to him.

Jeffery “Scooby” Carter is the only early enrollee who might have return skills.


PK - ???? A-Day might give us a better indication but this one might go deep into September before it is decided.

P - Bernier probably beats out DeLong but neither is an ideal option.

LS - Fletcher > Meyer > Hall

PR - It may be tempting to put Trevon Diggs back there. However, seeing how Waddle did a good job and Diggs is coming off an injury, it would make better sense to stick with Waddle. Henry Ruggs could be an option as well.

KR - Brian Robinson returned five kickoffs a season ago and might be the best option for 2019. Ruggs was the main kickoff returner two seasons ago. Wild card option: Chadarius Townsend.


WITHOUT LOOKING IT UP! Shaun Alexander is seventh on the all-time leading scoring list for Alabama with 300 points. The six Tide players above him are all kickers. How many can you name? (HINT: They all played post-Bear Bryant.)