2015 Maryland Football: Special Teams preview


Over the next few weeks, TerrapinStationMD will previewing each position on the Maryland football team. We begin with the special teams unit:


Brad Craddock – Some of the special teams spots may be up for grabs, but the Maryland kicker is the farthest thing from that. Brad Craddock is coming off a season in which he won the Lou Groza Award, which is annually given to the top kicker in college football. The Austrailian placekicker connected on 18-of-19 field goal attempts during the 2014 season with the lone miss coming on a 54-yarder against Rutgers in the final game of the regular season. Craddock currently ranks third on Maryland’s all-time list for made field goals (49), just behind Nick Novak and Jess Atkinson.

Craddock has really from a long way from his freshman season when he was 10-of-16 on field goal attempts, including a potential game-winning miss against N.C. State that season. He also missed a pair of extra points, which has since become uncommon (Craddock didn’t miss any in 2014). Craddock also only had three games in which he was perfect on his field goal attempts.

With an unsettled quarterback situation, Craddock may be depended on quite a bit in 2015 to put points on the board for the Terps. At Big Ten Media Day, coach Randy Edsall called Craddock “Mr. Automatic,” which is pretty fitting after the season he had a season ago. If Maryland fails to put the ball in the end zone, the Terps will certainly look to the sidelines for Craddock and the senior will deliver three points a large majority of the time.


Nicholas Rubinowicz – After Nathan Renfro decided to graduate early and transfer to Tennessee, the battle for the punter job became wide-open. Nicholas Rubinowicz looks like the most likely to be Maryland’s starting punter due to the fact that he’s the only one on scholarship. Rubinowicz comes to Maryland as one of the top punters in the nation (ranked No. 17 according to 247 Sports). The Florida native chose the Terps over an offer from Princeton and walk-on opportunities at California, Pittsburgh, and Virginia.

As a senior at the American Heritage School, Rubinowicz was named First Team All-State. When watching film of Rubinowicz, it’s easy to see that he has a booming leg and doesn’t falter under pressure from opposing players trying to block his punts. He also appears to have a knack for pooch punting kicks inside the 20-yard line, which was something that Renfro struggled with during his Maryland career. It seems that Rubinowicz is the most polished out of three punters that are up for the job and stands the best chance to be appointed the starter.

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Lee Shrader & Nicolas Pritchard – While Rubinowicz looks like the favorite, Lee Shrader and Nicolas Pritchard can’t be counted out. Shrader is a redshirt freshman that didn’t see any game action during the 2014 season. He comes to Maryland as one of the top punters in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia when he was in high school. Instead of accepting a Division II scholarship offer, he held out for Division I programs and could walk-on at Penn State, Rutgers, or Maryland. He ultimately chose the Terps and has the experience of being around the team.

On the other hand, Nicolas Pritchard is a walk-on that has a very impressive resume. Pritchard was one of the top kicker/punters in New Jersey and he even was the star goalie for New Eygpt High School. He averaged 42.3 yards-per-punt during his senior year. Pritchard was a late addition to the class, but certainly can’t be counted out of the race to replace Renfro.


Christian Carpenter & Nate Adams – Rarely does a football team has two long snappers on its roster. In an even rarer case, Maryland has a pair that are extremely talented. In 2014, Carpenter shared the long-snapping duties with Adams, but did miss four games due last season due to injury. Carpenter walked onto the football team and has seen action the past two seasons. On the other hand, Adams are recruited as a scholarship long-snapper, which is something you don’t see every day. The Arizona native made his collegiate debut against Ohio State last season and likely will be the starter at the positon. However, as we saw in 2014, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities to see both players reach the field this season.

Kick/punt returner

This has been a position of strength for the Terps over the past few seasons. Cornerback Will Likely was the primary kick and punt returner for Maryland in 2014. Wideout Stefon Diggs did handle some of the kickoff duties, but with Diggs gone, Likely definitely should get the majority of the returns. In 2014, Likely ran back 16 kickoffs for 496 yards (31.0 yards-per-return) and a touchdown. Likely found paydirt against Stanford in the Foster Farms Bowl on a 100-yard runback. In the punt return game, the Florida native ran back 20 punts for 225 yards (11.2 yards-per-return) and a touchdown. The touchdown came against West Virginia on a 69-yard return in which Likely made several Mountaineers miss. It’s remarkable how impressive of an athlete Likely is. He’s a shutdown corner that can take any team’s top wideout out of the equation, but is also versatile enough to be a force in the return game. With even more opportunities expected in 2015, Likely could be turning in more than a few highlight reel returns for the Terps.

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