Welcome to our new series in which we try to determine if the Arizona Wildcats’ position groups are in strong, stable, unstable, serious, or critical condition heading into fall camp. Next up are the punters.
- Returning Starters: None
- Returning Backups: Kyle Ostendorp, Jacob Meeker-Hackett
- Key Departures: Matt Aragon, Cameron Weinberg
- New Additions: None
Arizona essentially started last season with veteran Matt Aragon and ended with true freshman Kyle Ostendorp. With Aragon gone, it leaves the door wide open for Ostendorp to take over the starting role.
Ostendorp, who is on scholarship, appeared in six games and punted 21 times for 833 yards. It leaves an average of 39.67 yards, which isn’t exactly inspiring considering that would put Arizona outside the top-100 nationally.
2014 feels like so long ago when Drew Riggleman was blasting punts for over 46 yards and was ranked fourth in the nation. Only six yards can separate a guy from being a top-five punter to being outside the top 100, but those extra yards make all the difference in game situations.
And it’s not even accepting the fact that someone has a stronger or faster leg. It’s the inconsistency that has turned special teams upside down for Arizona. Whether it’s the snap, drop or contact, there has been far too much concern that the punt is getting shanked into the sidelines.
The unfortunate part is that there really aren’t any options behind Ostendorp to provide any competition or depth. Walk-on Cameron Weinberg was not listed on the spring roster and I feel like he had a chance to at least compete for the job considering how shaky things are.
Arizona does have another walk-on in Jacob Meeker-Hackett, who has been on the roster but hasn’t had much of an opportunity.
Arizona needs Ostendorp to be the guy. They invested an early scholarship in him and there is no one really to compete with him. Hopefully that is addressed as campus opens up. Coaching has been questionable on so many levels that you just hope the raw talent takes over and things can get blown up after this season.
The only thing worse than stalling on offense is having a punt put your opponent near mid-field.