Auburn spring questions: Filling the shoes of departed senior specialists

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 16, 2014 

A three-time Ray Guy semifinalist at Auburn, Steven Clark is the top-ranked punter in the NFL draft according to ESPN analyst Mel Kiper.

LAUREN BARNARD — Auburn University

Auburn's spring practice starts March 18. But as with any team, the Tigers have questions they'll try to answer in various areas. In that vein, beat writer Ryan Black has come up with 10 queries, looking at position battles, individual players and everything in between. The series continues with the specialists.

Who will fill the shoes (metaphorically) of the departed duo of Steven Clark and Cody Parkey?

It might seem this topic has been discussed already.

Which, in a way, is true, if you read the preview of the special teams as a whole last week.

Regardless, avid followers of the Tigers know that the replacements for Clark and Parkey have already been tabbed; Jimmy Hutchinson will take Clark's place while Daniel Carlson will do the same for Parkey. Not that they are the only people competing for the job. Tyler Stovall will try to overtake Hutchinson. At kicker, Carlson will have to fend off Alex Kviklys and Duncan McKinney.

But let's be realistic here: It will take a combination of Hutchinson/Carlson having terrible, horrible, no good, very bad springs along with one of their brethren putting together monumental efforts to unseat them.

These positions aren't to be downplayed, though. It's tough enough to replace one senior specialist. But trying to replace both of them in the same offseason? When both were two of the best players in the country at their respective spots?

Talk about pressure.

The good thing for both Hutchinson and Carlson is that they'll have a spring to ease into things.

Once the fall arrives, however, they won't have that luxury.

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