Three hundred fourteen — that’s how many points placekicker Shawn Moffitt put through the uprights during his four-year career at UCF.
Considering Moffitt was the all-time leader in career points as a Knight, placekickers redshirt sophomore Connor O’ Sullivan and redshirt freshman Matthew Wright have big shoes to fill.
Sean Galvin, the Knights’ former kickoff specialist, also leaves big shoes to fill. Last season, he averaged 61.5 yards on 56 kickoffs, including 17 for touchbacks.
But the Knights bring back punter Caleb Houston, who averaged 38.9 yards on 54 punts, and long snapper Gage Marsil, who saw some action as the backup long snapper last season.
“Me and Caleb, being seniors in the classroom this year, we’re sort of just trying to take that leadership to the next level,” Marsil said. “Those older guys last year sort of just left it up to us. And it sort of shows how to lead the way.”
With Houston and Marsil returning, the Knights will have some experience in their predominately young special teams core that is filled with underclassmen.
“It just gives us that experience of being out there and help those young guys go through how exactly to go about it, and the nerves that you’re going to get on gameday,” Marsil said. “And explain to them, so when they get out there they can expect that and know how to get around that and focus.”
Many of them have already had a chance to show off their skills in UCF’s spring game, though.
O’Sullivan and Wright, who each had a chance to learn under Moffitt, are battling for the starting placekicker position, and each went 2-for-2 in field goals during the spring game. Wright connected on 37- and 40-yard field goals while O’Sullivan made it through the uprights from 29 and 44 yards out.
“We’re specialists. That’s what we’re called. Our objective is to go out there and do our one thing and do it perfect,” Marsil said. “It’s that relentless pursuit of that perfect rep. That’s our goal. And that’s our job on this team, so we go out there and just try and specialize in what we do.”
Marsil, who will be the team’s primary long snapper this season, has the same sort of mindset and leadership role as Houston, as each earned a redshirt and will be participating in their fourth year on the team.
“We do it in practice day in and day out. We have pressure put on us and we just want to go out there and do the best we can for ourselves and for our team.”
While players on special teams may not hold the most popular positions on the field, they know what they do is vital to the team’s success. And they’re more than happy to forgo the glory for the win.
“The name of the game is field position. We know it. The team knows it,” Houston said. “It’s all right if we’re not everybody’s favorite UCF player.”
Jarrod Heil is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @JarrodHeil or email him at JarrodH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.