Butker challenging Scully for Jackets' kicking job

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerAugust 19, 2013 

In this file photo from Sep 4, 2010, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets kicker David Scully kicks off to South Carolina State during the fourth quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium.JOSH D. WEISS/US PRESSWIRE


ATLANTA -- "Toe meeting leather" has been a tradition at Georgia Tech since legendary announcer Al Ciraldo started calling games on the Flats. It will continue this year Aug. 31 against Elon. But the question remains: Who's toe will meet the leather?

With practice starting in earnest this week in preparation for the season opener, the battle for the starting place-kicking job remains a dead heat.

The incumbent is senior David Scully. The challenger is true freshman Harrison Butker. Let the countdown to kickoff begin.

"A great competition," special teams coach Dave Walkosky said.

Butker was listed No. 1 on the most recent depth chart, but head coach Paul Johnson said the depth chart changes almost every day.

Scully, a senior from Dawsonville, has a cannon for a leg. He has handled kickoffs the past two years. He had 21 kicks that were not returned in 2012. Scully competed for the job last year against Chris Tanner and wound up with plenty of opportunities. Scully made 37-of-39 extra points and 4-of-8 field goals. He kicked career-best 47-yarder against Florida State in the ACC championship game.

Butker was an all-state kicker in 2011 and 2012 at Westminster, where he once kicked a 53-yarder and made 16-of-17 field goals his junior year. He didn't play football until his sophomore year.

Butker grew up as a Georgia Tech fan and can remember watching some of the school's great place-kickers.

Neither player solidified their chances in Saturday's scrimmage. Scully missed a 50-yarder that had plenty of distance but was wide left. Butker missed a 58-yarder that was accurate but fell just short.

Last year, the place-kicking job fell to senior Tanner, who played the final six games. He was perfect on 18 extra points and made 5-of-6 field goals. He kicked a 38-yarder against Georgia and made two field goals in the ACC championship game.

Tanner's graduation set up a potential competition between Scully and Justin Moore, but Moore was kicked off the team in the spring for violating team rules. Moore had been the team's regular place-kicker in 2011. While he had been automatic on extra points (56-for-56), he was inconsistent on field goals, making 11-of-27.

The punting position is in more proven hands. Senior Sean Poole will start ahead of sophomore Ryan Rodwell, although each averaged 39.7 yards on punts a year ago.

Poole was the starter until suffering a shoulder injury trying to make a tackle against Miami. Poole missed three games, but he regained his job when he was healthy again. Poole took over as the starter during his season as a redshirt freshman and has held off competition the past two seasons to keep the job.

Poole punted 33 times, with eight being downed inside the 20. Rodwell punted 13 times, with a long of 52, and had two punts inside the 20.

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