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SIZING UP THE NFL DRAFT Special teams



Published: Fri, April 25, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



A look at the NFL Draft by position, by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News:

The top 15:

P-Mike Scifres, Western Illinois, 6-foot-21/2, 236 pounds

KB-Terrance Holt, North Carolina State, 6-2, 208

KR-Terrence McGee, Northwest Louisiana, 5-91/2, 201

P-Eddie Johnson, Idaho State, 6-31/2, 232

KR-Domanick Davis, LSU, 5-9, 213

K-Seth Marler, Tulane, 6-1, 195

KB-Antwan Peek, Cincinnati, 6-21/2, 246

KR-DeJuan Groce, Nebraska, 5-91/2, 192

K-Josh Brown, Nebraska, 6-01/2, 202

KB-Jermaine Mays, Minnesota, 6-0, 205

KR-LaTarence Dunbar, TCU, 5-101/2, 196

P-Glenn Pakulak, Kentucky, 6-21/2, 226

DS-Ryan Pontbriand, Rice, 6-2, 245

KR-Brian Mance, Clemson, 5-10, 189

KR-DeAndrew Rubin, South Florida, 5-101/2, 174

P-Punter; K-Kicker; KR-Kick returner; DS-Deep snapper; KB-Kick blocker.

The best: There hasn't been a kicker selected in the first day of the last two drafts, and there won't be one in this draft, either. Western Illinois' Mike Scifres sits atop this board not only because he's an elite punter, setting an NCAA Division I-AA record with his 48.7-yard average in 2002, but because he doubles up by kicking off. He boomed 52 of his 87 kickoffs into the end zone last season.

All-America: Ohio State P Andy Groom.

Award winners: Pakulak (Tatupu), Colorado P Mark Marsical (Guy), Marler (2001 Groza), Cincinnati K Jonathan Ruffin (2000 Groza).

Best underclassman: Illinois K Peter Christofilakos.

Potential No. 1s: None.

Punting: Auburn's Damon Duval was the first SEC player to be named all-conference at punter and kicker and also was a finalist for the Groza Award as best kicker and Guy Award as best punter. Speaking of the Guy Award, Scifres became the first I-AA punter ever to appear on the ballot. Idaho State led Division I-AA in net punting in both of Eddie Johnson's seasons. Only 19 of his 52 punts were returned in 2002.

Kicking: Minnesota's Dan Nystrom is the Big Ten's all-time leading kick scorer with 367 points. He also was an all-state wrestler in high school. Cincinnati's Jonathan Ruffin scored points in a school-record 46 consecutive games. Miami's Todd Sievers set an Iowa high school record with a 63-yard field goal. His long in college was a 53-yarder vs. Florida.

Kick blocks: Holt set an ACC record with 12 blocked kicks, including an NCAA-record four blocked field goals in 2001. He also blocked two Texas punts in one game as a freshman. Peek played basketball one winter at Cincinnati. He displayed spring in his legs in football by blocking seven career kicks, including six field goals.

Kick returns: Groce is the second-most prolific punt returner in Nebraska history behind former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers. Groce averaged 15.9 yards on 70 returns with five touchdowns. Western Illinois' DeAndrew Rubin averaged 25.6 yards per career kickoff return and 16.4 on punts.

In the nets: UCLA punter Nate Fiske recorded 38 shutouts as a high school soccer goalie. His club team played in the Dallas Cup.

Sleeper: Lynaris Elpheage, Tulane. Elpheage is tiny by NFL standards at 5-8, 170 pounds. But his productivity isn't small. He ranked in the NCAA's top 25 in kickoff and punt returns in 2002 -- 20th in kickoffs with an average of 24.8 yards and 23rd in punts at 13.3. He returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Houston and a punt for a score against Hawaii. He could be the next Gerald "Ice Cube" McNeil.

-- The Dallas Morning News




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