WASHINGTON - The Georgetown University football team is in its fourth week of practices, working hard toward its season opener at Campbell University on September 9. Throughout preseason camp, GUHoyas.com will take an in-depth look at each of the team's position groups, with this edition featuring the specialists.
The Blue & Gray was among the Patriot League leaders last years in multiple special teams’ categories. Along with tying for the national lead with eight blocked kicks, GU tied for the conference lead in field goals made and ranked second in field goal percentage. Georgetown was just one of three PL teams to not miss a PAT and was third in punting net average. The Hoyas will have new faces in each of its specialist positions – placekicking, kickoffs, punting and long snapping – as they turn to two seniors, a junior and a sophomore to fill roles opened by graduation.
Sophomore Brad Hurst (Helen, Ga./White County) and junior Oliver Hill (Brooklyn, N.Y./Deerfield Academy) will look to take over the field goal, PAT and kickoff duties in 2017. They will be tasked with replacing Henry Darmstadter (C’17), who finished his career with a program-record 27 made field goals and was a near-perfect 60-of-61 on PAT attempts, and Ben Priddy (MSB’17), who kicked off 160 times in his four years on the Hilltop. Hurst had one kickoff last season as a freshman, while Hill joined the Hoyas this fall.
Hurst and senior Henry Woodrow (Aspen, Colo./Aspen) will battle for the reps in the punting game. Neither has attempted a punt in their career as they have been waiting for their opportunity behind Harry McCollum (MSB’17), who set Georgetown’s single-season records in 2016 with 86 total punts and 3,575 yards punting, becoming the first Hoya to surpass 3,000 punt yards in a season.
Senior Warren Wynn (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons) will take over the long snapping duties this season after serving as the understudy to four-year long snapper Robert Longwell (C’17) for the past three seasons.
“Those four guys – Brad Hurst, Oliver Hill, Henry Woodrow and Warren Wynn –are all combining to function in different roles within the specialists,” said Special Teams Coordinator Maurice Banks, who is in his first year in that role. “Everyone has two jobs for the most part to give us some depth in the kicking and snapping game and they are all doing a good job of taking on these extra roles. We are all battling to see who will be taking a majority of the reps in games.”
In the kicking return game, while the Blue & Gray bring back all five players who returned a kick last season, there are several Hoyas who could earn the opportunity to field a punt or kickoff in 2017. Senior Isaac Ellsworth (Bedford, Texas/Euless Trinity) and sophomore Michael Dereus (Hyde Park, Mass./Williston Northampton) combined to return 30 kickoffs last season. Ellsworth ranks in the top five of the GU record books in career kickoff returns, kickoff return yardage and average, while Dereus returned a 100-yard kickoff for a touchdown last season against Holy Cross. Senior Alex Valles (Danvers, Mass./Danvers) took the majority of the punt returns, averaging 6.2 yards on nine returns while classmate Blaise Brown (New Orleans, La./St. Augustine/Loomis Chaffee) and Dereus combined for 10 returns as well. Junior Ramon Lyons (Orlando, Fla./Ocoee/West Orange) also fielded two kickoff returns for a total of 94 yards.