Great special teams were a calling card of the Brian Kelly era at UC. In Phil Steele's cumulative ranking of speacial teams UC finished 21st, 1st and 8th. Last year UC ranked 63rd nationally. The biggest reason was a lack of difference makers on special teams. The lack of overall depth also had an extremely detrimental effect. The depth will be better this year. But the difference makers aren't there or aren't proven. UC was home to the Big East Special Teams player of the year for every season of the Kelly era, Kevin Huber once in 2007 and Mardy Gilyard in 2008 and 2009. The Bearcats won't approach the highs of the Kelly era on special teams until they find a difference maker in the return game.
P - 34 - Patrick O'Donnell
The top returning punter in the Big East. I have taken to calling him Pat O'Donis in my head because of his inclusion in Bruce Feldman's annual list of freaks in college football. A punter who makes that list deserves a spectacular nickname and O'Donis is the best I got. Feel free to add your own. Averaged almost 42 yards per punt last year with an average net of 37.3 which is pretty close to what Kevin Huber averaged over his final two years. O'Donis also had 16 punts downed inside the 20.
K - 29 - Shane Popham
A transfer from Wake Forest who joined the team after the summer. I think the fact that the staff brought him in for what is going to be a one year deal shows their lack of confidence in their other options. Neither Tony Miliano or Danny Milligan did much to lock down the job for themselves in the spring. I think Popham takes the job, but that is just my hunch. I don't think anyone actually knows.
R - 27 - Akise Teauge
The difference maker that was clearly not in evidence last year. The kid is lightning in a bottle and is worth the risk. More here and here.
R - 10 - Darrin Williams
I think Williams will be the second return guy ahead of D.J. Woods, Anthony McClung and possibly Kenbrell Thompkins
K - 26 - A.J. Fleak
K - 14 - Tony Miliano
P - 24 - John Lloyd
P - 35 - Eric Ernst