After kicking woes plagued the Hogs in 2009, two freshmen are poised to enter stage right and contend for starting positions this season.
In 2009, the Hogs ranked dead last in the SEC, and 108th out of 120 Division I schools in net punting at 32.6 yards per punt. Punter Dylan Breeding beat out scholarship kicker Briton Forester before the season and, at times, showed a big leg. But Breeding did not consistently get the ball to ‘turn over,’ which meant low, line drive, returnable kicks were the norm last season.
As for placekicker Alex Tejada, he had a decent year in 2009 by the numbers: 16-22 FGs and 58-59 PATs. Both are respectable stats, but clutch field goals (at Florida and LSU) eluded the junior from Springdale until the game-winning kick vs. East Carolina provided a 20-17 Liberty Bowl overtime win.
Enter stage right this year’s contenders: Zach Hocker (6-0, 170) from Russellville, and Eduardo Camara (5-8, 160) from Cedar Hill, Texas — both on scholarship. All indications are that the Hogs would like for Hocker to take the punting job and let Camara duke it out with Tejada for the placements. All three will vie for kickoff duties.
Hocker averaged 45.0 yards per punt as a senior, while kicking a school record 15 field goals. His long field goal was 52 yards, and 58 of his 61 kickoffs were touchbacks.
Camara, who was injured some during his senior year, finished as one of the top kickers in Texas. Five of Camara’s 15 field goals were from 40+, including a 49-yarder.
Competition is good for everyone. On the special teams front, keep your eye on Hocker and Camara as fall camp begins.