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Alabama Football Recruiting: Meet the New Guys- Special Teams

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Is this the class that finally breaks the curse?

NCAA Football: Alabama at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve gone all the way through both the offense and the defense of all the new Alabama players coming in with the 2019 class. If you missed any of them, here’s a link dump:

Quarterbacks

Running backs

Pass catchers

Offensive line

Defensive line

Linebackers

Secondary

With such a large recruiting class, this one took me a little longer following National Signing Day than it usually does, and there wound up being enough left over for me to put together and entire piece on just the new special teams players. Only one is actually a scholarship recruit— kicker Will Reichard. The others are some preferred walk-ons that will be in line to have a shot at a contributing role in the future.

I’ll skip the usual format of pros, cons, and measureables and just go into a short breakdown for each player, as there just isn’t as much info out there on pure special teams players.

Will Reichard

The next iteration of the supposed savior of the Tide’s kicking woes, Reichard comes to campus with a whole lot of hype and even more expectations. He was the #1 ranked kicker in the nation, and would have probably been a top 5 punter as well. Hailing from Hoover, AL, Reichard has one of the strongest legs seen coming out of high school in the last few years.

He maxed out at a 54 yard field goal during the season, but only attempted 13 all year, because Hoover doesn’t really get stopped on 3rd down too often. He’s a shade under 75% accuracy on the year, but most of the misses have been long-range attempts. In camp circuits, he’s won just about every competition there is over the last two years.

There’s not a whole lot I can evaluate just looking at his 9 completed field goals this year, but he does have a short, compact stride that allows him to get the ball into the air quickly without a long build-up. A lot of kickers can only do that for short field goal attempts, but Reichard has enough leg strength to do it at pretty much any distance.

As a punter, he averaged 41 yards per punt despite over half of them being downed inside the 20 yard line. He can routinely hit 5 seconds of hangtime, too. That’s pretty great, by the way.

Jack Martin

A lefty punter out of McGill-Toolen in Mobile, Alabama, Martin was offered a PWO spot in late February and quickly turned down his previous commitment to walk-on at Ole Miss. He downed 19 of his 51 punts in the 20 yard line, and averaged 39 yards per punt. Not great numbers, but better than either of Alabama’s punters in 2018.

He’s got a quick step into his punts (a breath of fresh air after last year’s 70-second long wind-ups) and tends to hit his punts with a strong end-over-end topspin. That style of punting is tough to field for returners, but sacrifices some hang time for it. Plus there’s the added bonus of it shooting forward for an extra 10-20 yards if the returner lets it hit the ground.

Gabriel Pugh

A massive long snapper out of Northridge High School in Tuscaloosa, Pugh was actually a three-year starter at left tackle. He turned down the option to play at a mid-major level to focus solely on long snapping and play for Alabama. At 6’5”, 275, he’s much bigger that Alabama’s usual style of long snapper, which is more the size of a full back or linebacker.

He’s known for having a cannon of a snap that can nearly knock his punter down if he’s not paying attention. Despite being an offensive lineman in body, he has the spirit of a gunner and is always doing his best to be the first down the field, looking to clobber the kick returner.

Eric Poellnitz

Coming out of Mobile Christian, Poellnitz is a sparkplug of a wide receiver who accepted a walk on spot to compete as a kick returner for the Tide. With over 1100 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns in his senior season. He’s not the fastest or biggest guy around, but he’s about as shifty as they come. When it comes to breaking ankles and taking names, he’s your man. Check out this video for yourself. He’s fun to watch.


And that’s a wrap for the 2019 recruiting class. I’m probably wrong on about 80% of my predictions, and everyone on this site will be bringing it back up for years to come.

In any case, the future of the Crimson Tide is in good hands.

Roll Tide!