2020 Position Preview: Kicker/Punter
John. E. Hoover
Every Friday going into Big 12 Media Days on July 20-21, SI Sooners will break down one Oklahoma position group. Today: Kicker and punter.
So Lincoln Riley isn’t perfect.
Oklahoma’s head coach has a remarkable record of picking quarterbacks (not that it took a genius to mark Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray or Jalen Hurts as the starter), but his first year having to choose a kicker wasn’t exactly a bull’s-eye.
Still, the situation took care of itself when Riley’s first choice, Calum Sutherland, missed two kicks and then got himself kicked off the team, and the backup, Gabe Brkic, stepped in and never missed.
Brkic made 17-of-17 field goal attempts and 52-of-52 PATs and earned All-American honors in 2019. So far in 2020, he’s on most preseason All-American lists.
No pressure, right?
Certainly no more pressure than lining up to make a game-winning 31-yard kick in the final minutes of the Sooners’ madcap rally at Baylor. Brkic showed mettle that night in Waco that will serve him well over the next three years.
Good news for Riley, who at this rate won’t have to pick another kicker until 2023. Austin Seibert took the burden off Riley’s shoulders by owning the job from 2015-18. Now it’s Brkic’s job to lose.
CBS Sports named Brkic first-team All-American last year, and both The Athletic and the Football Writers Association of America tabbed him Freshman All-American. He was second-team All-Big 12 and was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award.
Brkic wasn’t asked to kick many long ones, but distance doesn’t seem a problem for him. His career-long (at Kansas State) covered 50 yards, but he recently displayed his leg strength in a video on Twitter when he booted one from 72 yards.
Across the board, OU’s kicking units are the rarity going into 2020: they are almost entirely settled.
Not only is there an All-America candidate lining up to take kicks, but punter Reeves Mundschau is back as well. Mundschau took every punt for the Sooners last year and averaged 42.4 yards per punt while bombing eight 50-yarders, including a career-long 67-yard kick. Mundschau, a junior, put only two kicks into the end zone for touchbacks, and he dropped 12 inside the 20 yard line.
Deep snapper is set, too, with junior Kasey Kelleher back. Kelleher snapped without incident in all 14 games in each of his first two seasons. Deep snaps can be a source of anxiety for coaches trying to identify the candidates, but Kelleher’s experience and reliability make it easy for Riley and special teams coach Shane Beamer.
Who gets to hold on placekicks — something Connor McGinnis did so well the last three years — still needs to be decided.
Former Liberty transfer and wide receiver Spencer Jones has already announced his candidacy for the Mortell Holder of the Year Award. (It’s mostly tongue-in-cheek, although McGinnis previously “won” the award).
But wideout Drake Stoops has reliable hands, good athletic ability, sudden quickness and plenty of football smarts and seems a strong candidate. Also, backup quarterbacks are good candidates for the job; could that mean Tanner Mordecai if he doesn’t beat out Spencer Rattler?
To get the latest OU posts as they happen, join the SI Sooners Community by clicking “Follow” at the top right corner of the page (mobile users can click the notifications bell icon), and follow SI Sooners on Twitter @All_Sooners.