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Boston College Football: 2021 Special Teams Preview

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Pittsburgh Panthers Vs. Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

We’ve come a long way since the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl’s missed PAT and other woes from Boston College kickers. This squad is shaping up to be pretty decent, especially on short kicks, so you may be able to set aside the heart monitor during FG attempts going forward. The returners should have a decent year for themselves, too. Let’s take a look:

Kicking

Aaron Boumerhi is back as BC’s primary kicker in his 6th year in the NCAA and 3rd year at Boston College since transferring from Temple. He was a breath of fresh air last season and saw a bunch of improvement as he kicked 16/20 (80%) on FGs, which was up from 12/18 (67%) in 2019. He also kicked 100% on PATs for the 2nd year in a row in a BC uniform. It’s a nice stable presence after BC has suffered through plenty of kickers who could be shaky on occasion.

Danny Longman is a versatile kicker who occasionally finds himself kicking FGs, PATs, or even punts. But his primary responsibility on the team is kickoffs (he kicked 58 last year), and he’s back for his 4th year to do just that. He has had trouble in the past with penalties for kicking the ball out of bounds (mostly in the 2019 season), but largely has been solid otherwise.

Connor Lytton is a name to watch out for in the future. He’s a freshman this year and came into BC ranked as the 5th-best kicker nationally in his class according to 247sports. If either Boumerhi or Longman has a cold streak or an injury, he could be the next man up.

Punting

Grant Carlson has been the Eagles’ primary punter for the past 3 years and you should expect him to continue in that role this season. He’s not an extraordinary punter, but he regularly finishes right in the middle of the pack in the P5 and has improved his numbers each season. There’s not much to complain about here.

Returning

Travis Levy will have a big role in the backfield this season, and his role in the return game should also be significant. He was the team’s leading kickoff returner last season by a wide margin and he also caught some punts along the way. However if Levy indeed ends up taking the role of primary RB this season, it may be interesting to see if Coach Hafley reduces Levy’s role on special teams in order to keep his legs fresh.

Jaelen Gill is who we saw most often making punt returns last season. In 7 returns he posted a good 8.7 yards per return, which is just above average in the NCAA. But with such a small sample size it’s difficult to make a judgment on his abilities just yet, especially considering he never returned kicks at Ohio State before transferring to Boston College last season. There’s plenty of room for him to grow, and he’s also primed for a breakout year offensively among one of the best bunches of wideouts Boston College has ever seen.

Alec Sinkfield is a transfer RB from West Virginia this season who has plenty of return experience himself. He returned 19 punts last season for an average 5.3 yards per return. That’s not a terrific number, but it’s an improvement from the 4.2 yards per return he put up 2 seasons ago. Depth isn’t a bad thing, and Sinkfield is a serviceable returner if nobody else breaks through for a big year.

Other returners may come out of the woodwork, like maybe Patrick Garwo III or Peter Stehr, but it’s tough to predict. BC is solid, not amazing, at the returner position.