Levine turns to new faces to fill special teams void

Returning to UH for the 2014-2015 season are last year’s top kick and punt return specialists, keeping several seasons of experience at positions that can sometimes change a game in one mad dash.

Senior Damian Payne, who returned 15 punts for 64 yards last season, is back. On the year, Payne averaged 4.3 yards per returned, a stat good for third in the conference.

Sophomore DeMarcus Ayers, named to the 2014 CFPA Kick Returner Trophy Watch List, was the starting kick returner last season. Ayers put up one touchdown and 1,021 yards, averaging 78 yards a game.

However, with the old refrain that special teams is a third of the game, UH needs some positions filled.

Replace the position, not the student-athlete is what Tony Levine says, an axiom he will now have to apply to his special teams with the absence of punter and kicker Richie Leone, who is now in the NFL. The search for new players at both positions has led Levine to contemplating the following players.

Competing for Kicker

Ty Cummings: A true freshman last season, Levine said Cummings had as good a spring as anyone on the team. His experience consisted of handling the occasional kickoff.

Kyle Bullard: A junior who took over some kicking duties against USF, he finished last season 6-6 on field goals with his longest being a 46-yarder against Louisville. Bullard was also the sixth leading scorer on the team with 38 points.

Competing for Punter

Logan Piper: A junior and a  former pitcher for the UH baseball team, Piper saw no action last year while serving as Leone’s backup and has been in the program for three years, something that will please Levine’s love for experienced players.

Dylan Siebert: Another junior and a transfer from the University of Oklahoma, he served as the starting holder last year, with no bad holds to his record.

Long Snapper

Junior Nolan Frese returns as the top part of the special teams triangle. He had no botched snaps during the 2013 season.

Levine when asked about the selection process was comfortable with what was before him.

“We’ve got some young men who are talented. We know more about them as we do some other positions. We will be just fine at those positions,” Levine said.

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