Photo: Ricardo B. Brazziell
Photo: Ricardo B. Brazziell

Projected top players by position: Kickers/punters

A kicking specialist can’t have a season much better than the junior campaign of Brock Travelstead. The North Paulding kicker/punter made 17 of 18 field-goal attempts, his longest 46 yards. He put 55 of 61 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. His punting average was 43.0 yards. 

‘’I know I’m pretty much guaranteed three points if we can move the ball past the 40-yard line,’’ North Paulding coach Jim Bob Bryant said. “Then after scoring, the other team is going to get the ball on the 20 instead of having a chance for a big return, and we can rest guys on kickoffs because we know he’s going to kick it in the end zone. Having him is a big difference for several reasons.’’

More on position previews

» Quarterbacks
» Running backs
» Wide receivers/tight ends
» Offensive linemen
» Defensive linemen
» Linebackers
» Defensive backs
» Athletes
» Kicking specialists

Travelstead also can pass, meaning he’s capable of executing a fake punt or field goal. 

And Travelstead is the first pure specialist that Bryant has had in 17 seasons as a head coach who was voted a captain by his teammates.

‘’That should tell you all you need to know about what a competitor and football player he is,’’ Bryant said. “Sometimes your kicker is like a soccer player, but Brock knows football and is a really good athlete. Having hat competitive nature also helps him with pressure kicks.’’

Below are 10 of the state’s best kickers and punters. This is the final installment of a nine-issue series on the best players at each position. 

• Albert Jang, Peachtree Ridge: Jang averaged 45.0 yards per punt and put 10 of 15 kickoffs in the end zone. In March, Jang became the first 2020 football commitment to Army. That was before visiting the academy in April. Jang is the preseason all-state punter in Class AAAAAAA. 

• Kellen Grave de Peralta, Norcross: De Peralta made 10 of 11 field-goal attempts last season, two from 42 yards. He averaged 33.7 yards punting. He committed to Navy in May. 

• Diego Huerta, Douglas County: A three-year starter, Huerta has averaged 42.2 yards per punt the past two seasons. In 2018, he put 22 of 46 inside the 20-yard line. He's the preseason all-state punter in AAAAAA. Sailer Kicking rates him a four-star recruit. 

• Jude Kelley, Allatoona: The preseason all-state kicker in Class AAAAAA, Kelley made 10 of 13 field goals, one a 51-yarder, in 2018. He’s rated the No. 8 place-kicker nationally by Sailer Kicking. Also a good punter, Kelley averaged 42.1 yards while placing 12 of 27 inside the 20-yard line last season. He has reported offers from Campbell and Wofford. 

• Dylan Lewis, East Coweta: Lewis is a top-20 prospect as both a kicker and punter, per Kohl's Kicking. He’s committed to Georgia Southern. In 2018, he made six of 10 field-goal attempts with a long of 44, had 15 touchbacks out of 42 kickoffs and averaged 38.4 yards per punt with nine of 39 inside the 20. 

• Charlie Pollock, Walton: A three-year starter, Pollack has averaged 39.1 yards per punt over the past two seasons while putting nine of 47 inside the 21-yard line. Rated the No. 8 senior punter by Kohl's, Pollock is committed to Nevada. 

• Noah Jones, Cairo: Jones kicked a 60-yard field goal last season as a sophomore but actually made first-team all-state as a punter. He averaged 40.3 yards and put 15 inside the 20-yard line. He also made 10 of 19 field-goal attempts. He sent 53 of 81 kickoffs for touchbacks. As a sophomore, he made 11 of 15 field goals. 

• Marshall Nichols, Holy Innocents’: Nichols is rated the No. 2 punter nationally in the class of 2021 by Sailer Kicking. He averaged 40.0 yards per punt with six of 25 inside the 20-yard line in 2018. He's the preseason Class A private-school punter. 

• Brock Travelstead, North Paulding: Travelstead is rated the consensus No. 5 place-kicker prospect nationally by 247Sports Composite. He is committed to Louisville. 

• James Williams, Athens Academy: Committed to Syracuse, Williams is the No. 4-rated senior punter by both Kohl's and Sailer, but he got more attention as a place-kicker last season, when he made a 57-yard field goal in a 31-27 victory over rival Prince Avenue Christian. He was 10 of 15 on field goals and put 49 of 80 kickoffs into the end zone. His punting average was 36.7. 

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