UCLA Football Spring Practice Preview 2018: Special Teams (cont.)
Austin Kent, Jr, 6-1, 215 lbs.
After taking over punting duties halfway through the 2016 season, Flintoft was the number one punter from the start of the 2017 year. His 42.9 yards per punt average was good for fifth in PAC-12 play and almost a three yard improvement from the previous season. Flintoft was also useful pinning the Bruins’ opponents back by landing 21 punts inside the 20 yard line. Four of those coming in the Bruins’ first loss of the year at Memphis.
The Loyola High School (CA) grad also served as the holder on place kicks for the Bruins last year so I expect him to continue that responsibility this season.
Behind Flintoft on the punting ladder is Austin Kent. As the starting punter during the 2016 season, Kent punted in eight games for the Bruins before being replaced by Flintoft for the remainder of the season. In those eight games, Kent averaged 38.3 yards per punt. Kent failed to attempt any punts last year. Coming into camp and barring injury, Flintoft should be the number one punter for new head coach Chip Kelly.
Johnny Den Bleyker, Jr, 5-11, 195 lbs.
The former High School Long Snapper of the Year was the snapper on every kick the past two seasons for the Bruins. Currently he is the only long snapper on the Bruins’ roster with Division 1 game experience. The two other long snappers on the roster, sophomore Alex Michaelsen and junior Koby Walsh, have yet to see any game action. Although, just like any other position on the team, the backups need to be ready to get into the game at any time. But as long as Den Bleyker is healthy, he should be snapping the ball for UCLA all year.