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Day 18: Most Important Specialist

NCAA Football: Washington at Utah Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Hey Isaiah Gilchrist, how many days until Husky Football is back?

(that’s an 18)

Thanks Isaiah.

Another day closer to the 2017 season kick off, and here we are with another countdown piece.

Today, we’re looking at who the most important specialist is on the team. As a reminder, here’s how the special teams depth chart looks to be shaking out:


Sr. Tristan Vizcaino

So. Sebastian Valerio (walk-on)


So. Joel Whitford

RFr. Race Porter (walk-on)

RFr. Van Soderberg


Sr. Tristan Vizcaino

RFr. Van Soderberg

Kick Returner

Jr. Chico McClatcher

So. Austin Joyner

Punt Returner

Sr. Dante Pettis

So. Aaron Fuller

Long Snapper

So. AJ Carty

RFr. Luke Lane


Sr. Dante Pettis

Jr. KJ Carta-Samuels

That’s a lot of choices. Here are my top 3 candidates for most important special-teamer:

Option #1 - Tristan Vizcaino

Tristan is poised to handle a large workload on special teams this year. He locked down the kick offs last year, kicking a career best 39 touch backs. Winning the field position battle is huge and having a big legged kicker on kick off duty is a weapon. In addition, with the graduation of Cameron Van Winkle, Vizcaino will be the primary field goal kicker as well and by all accounts he’s very accurate with anything inside 40 yards. He was also last year’s punter, so the fact that he performs all 3 kicking jobs at a high level, makes him extremely valuable. If things were to go south in the punting department, he could serve as an emergency back up. His overall versatility is impressive.

Option #2 - Joel Whitford

Everyone’s favorite Australian punter. Joel joins the team as a “rugby style” punter from the same program that produced the last two Ray Guy Award winners, Pro Kick Australia. Rugby style punting can be a huge weapon on special teams, as the extra distance on the punts allows you to “flip the field” even more, and make the opposing offense drive a long field. Not to mention it puts more pressure on the returner, increasing the likelihood of a muffed punt or extra distance on the kick. By all accounts the punting job is his to lose. He’s also 24 years old, and you have to think Chris Petersen loves that maturity.

Option #3 - Dante Pettis

Dante Pettis in 3 years at UW has cemented himself as the best punt returner in school history. Not only has he consistently been dangerous on returns (5 return TDs), he is sure handed, and rarely makes the wrong decision on whether to catch the ball or let it go. His punt return TD against Utah last year won the game, which was tied and going down to the wire. You don’t often find such game changing and explosive punt returners who are also so reliable and safe. A real weapon on special teams.

The Verdict

This was a tough decision, but I had to go with Tristan Vizcaino. I love the potential of Joel Whitford, but he’s yet to play a Pac-12 game and we could still plug in Vizcaino if Whitford doesn’t work out. Dante Pettis brings a ton of value as a dangerous, yet reliable, punt returner, but I like Tristan Vizcaino’s overall value that he brings to special teams. The main reason being, is that he can play all 3 primary kicking jobs: place kicking (field goals/PATs), kick offs, and punting. Not only is that impressive on its own, but he does all 3 quite well. He doesn’t allow returns on most kick offs, and is a reliable field goal kicker. Assuming Whitford locks down the punting job, Vizcaino will be left with other two kicking jobs, making him the most important special teams player on the roster.


Who will be the most important special teams player on the roster?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Tristan Vizcaino
    (173 votes)
  • 19%
    Joel Whitford
    (66 votes)
  • 23%
    Dante Pettis
    (78 votes)
  • 4%
    Chico McClatcher
    (14 votes)
  • 2%
    Someone else
    (7 votes)
338 votes total Vote Now