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Bearcats Position Preview: Special Teams

Tulsa v Cincinnati Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

Cincinnati’s special teams unit has something old and something new in 2021.

Incoming freshman Mason Fletcher, a extremely tall and extremely thin punter from Australia, looks to be the lead man on fourth down. Fletcher replaces fellow Australian James Smith, the net average king of the AAC in recent years. Fletcher is a product of the same pipeline as his predecessor—an outfit called Prokick Australia which is led by Nathan Chapman and John Smith.

Fletcher’s recruiting tape impresses, with all kinds of boomers that make it obvious why he was the consensus number 6 punter in the 2021 recruiting class.

Fletcher will be backed up by Alex Bales, who kicked off on 6 occasions last season and is also the backup place kicker/kickoff specialist.

Something old in the Bearcats lineup is the ever-reliable Cole Smith. Now a junior, Smith hit plenty of clutch kicks last season en route to a 7-10 mark on field goals and a 48-50 mark on extra points. He brings two years of varsity experience to the position and solidifies Cincinnati’s special teams game.

When it comes to returning kicks, the Bearcats have legitimate burners running back both kickoffs and punts. The Cincinnati Bearcats’ kick returner, Tre Tucker, is a sophomore sensation in the making. Last year, he averaged nearly 30 yards per return and took one to the house against South Florida.

Punts will be returned by junior Ryan Montgomery, who ripped off several big plays in 2020.

Taken together, Cincinnati has one of the top returning special teams units in the AAC.