While the 2020 season remains up in the air, we’re going to soldier on assuming it will be business as usual.
Business as usual in the Penn State specialist room for the last 4 years has been Blake Gillikin booming punts over them mountains. Unfortunately for us all, Blake has graduated, and will not be blessing us with his golden locks any longer.
Which of course leads to the question: who will kick the ball in 2020?
Let’s start with place kicking.
Jake Pinegar was the chief field goal kicker, taking all kicks inside about 50 yards. Jake was pretty accurate, hitting 11 of 12 attempts in 2019, with a long of 47. His extra points were pretty good as well, going 56-of-58. Compared with 2018, Jake’s kick trajectories seemed to be a bit more vertical, cutting down on the number of blocked kicks.
The other name to know is Jordan Stout, a transfer from Virginia Tech who was brought in mainly as a kickoff specialist. Known for his booming kicks, he was almost exclusively used to put kickoffs through the endzone. 80% of his kicks went for touchbacks, and he ranked sixth in the country on average kickoff distance, accounting for returns.
Notably, Stout also took field goal attempts over 50 yards, going 2-of-3 at that range, and setting the Penn State long field goal record at 57 yards, against Pitt. For a kicker known mostly for his distance, being accurate at that distance is eye opening.
Those two will duke it out for place kicking duties in 2020, but I would be surprised if we saw much of a change from the existing setup. That may have something to do with the punting situation.
As mentioned, Gillikin has graduated, and he has left a bit of a void behind him. The Lions have recruited a few punters along the way, but none of them are currently on scholarship. During pregame at the Cotton Bowl, and throughout winter workouts, several videos have popped up of Stout destroying some punts. We know he has the leg - if he’s accurate enough, I’d wager that he ends up being your punter in 2020.
If Stout is indeed the punter, I would guess that James Franklin wouldn’t want one kicker doing all of the kicking duties. With that in mind, my guess is that Pinegar continues to take field goals inside of 50 yards as well as extra points. Stout meanwhile will be your 50+ yard field goal kicker, the kickoff specialist, and the punter.
What say you? Who do you envision kicking the ball for Penn State in 2020?