The special teams unit is the unsexy, necessary and very important part of each football team. At the very least, you want your team to have a solid, reliable set of players to perform special teams duties. At best, you get gamebreakers who drastically affect the game.
Gone is one of those gamebreakers, punter Scott Arellano. Arellano blasted a school-record 81-yarder last season and averaged an excellent 45.0 net yards per punt. He also consistently pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line and often inside the 10-yard line.
Here's a look at how each key part of the special teams unit stands as the 2015 seasons approaches.
Trevor Samson is a senior and the starting incumbent. After transferring from Fresno City College, Samson turned in the most accurate field goal kicking season in BYU history. Samson knocked through 12-of-14 field goal attempts for a 85.7% rate. He was also 62-of-63 on extra point attempts.
In two different games, Samson went 2-of-2 FG and 5-of-5 XP -- the wins against Texas and Virginia.
The problem: BYU purposefully didn't give Samson many chances from 40+ yards. He was a reliable leg from 20-29 yards and even 30-39, but the staff didn't seem to trust his abilities beyond that. Samson only had 3 FGA beyond 40 yards. The breakdown:
20-29 yards: 6-of-6
30-39 yards: 4-of-5
40+ yards: 2-of-3
His two missed field goals were from 33 and 44. His long was 45, his final boot of the season that came in the first overtime against Memphis -- which was then topped by the Memphis kicker hitting from 54 to send it to a second OT.
So Samson was super reliable, but will he have stretched his reliability so coaches will be willing to try a few more 40+ attempts?
Also in question is his kickoff ability. Andrew Mikkelsen served as kickoff specialist before injury sidelined him, and was much more effective than Samson at drawing touchbacks. Mikkelsen has left the program, as has Moose Bingham who transferred to Snow College.
Austin Brasher is currently serving backup to Samson. Brasher was the fourth-string kicker as a sophomore last season, and reports have been just okay about Brasher in camp. Samson's health could be very important to BYU.
Brasher has a lead in kickoff duties over Samson, where punter Rhett Almond is also competing. Corey Edwards is expected to throw his hat in the kicking ring when school starts.
Rugby convert Jonny Linehan has excited fans with his move to football, especially after things like this gorgeous cross kick pass. He's also been posting trick-shot style videos on Vine and Twitter.
However, the junior needs to prove consistency. Bronco Mendenhall rated the days two and three of camp as poor, or "frowny face" as he said. But by all accounts, Linehan looked decent on day one and great on day four. Hopefully some steady practice pays off and the punting game will be solid.
The same evaluations stand for freshman Rhett Almond as well, who will have every chance but for now seems slightly behind Linehan.
To this point in camp, the group from which punt returners will be chosen seems to be Devon Blackmon, Mitch Juergens, Trey Dye, and Eric Takenaka.
Blackmon and Juergens both returned punts last season. Blackmon fielded 12 punts for 68 return yards (5.7 yards per return) and Jeurgens fielded 8 punts for 60 yards (6.7 ypr).
One's first hope might be for Blackmon to round into the gamebreaker in the return game his recruit rating (97.72 composite 247 Sports rating) and initial college signing (Oregon) might indicate he is capable of.
Dye could prove to be a wild card. The talented high school running back was exclusively a receiver last season, but seems to be in the mix for some occasional RB reps (with Juergens) as well.
Takenaka was a prolific kick returner at Snow College, which takes us to ...
Adam Hine is the incumbent "starter" in the kickoff return game and has proven himself beyond capable. Hine returned 22 kicks for 540 yards (a 24.5 yard per return average) and one touchdown, a scoring return against Virginia that spelled the difference between a win and overtime.
Hine seems to have fallen out of good graces in the RB corps, with offensive coordinator Robert Anae seeming to hint Hine was one of the few offensive players who didn't "get on board" with the new strength and conditioning program from Frank Wintrich. We'll see if that effects his status as the lead kick returner.
Eric Takenaka, a transfer from Snow College, not only seems to have a beat on a starting safety spot but should have the lead in the battle to replace Paul Lasike as Hine's kick return partner. Takenaka led the country in the JC ranks with a 44.1 yards-per-return average.
Mitch Juergens (5 returns), Michael Davis (3), and Trey Dye (2) all occasionally saw time in the KR game last season and could figure into the mix.
A wildcard in the KR battle could also be redshirt freshman Michael Shelton. Shelton was a return specialist and track star as a prep in North Carolina.
THE long snapper Matt Foley is the only player designated as a "deep snapper" on the current roster. Foley is a true freshman who joined as a preferred walk-on as part of the 2015 signing class, and has already famously inked himself into internet lore this offseason. By all accounts, however, Foley is a great kid who is already in love with BYU, and is a well-practiced deep snapper who should lock down the job.