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August 1, 2012

Challengers arrive on special teams

As expected Ron Doherty enters fall camp as the top punter and kicker on the depth chart. Doherty, who has been named to the Ray Guy Watch List, is the clear favorite at those positions. But there are players that are on campus and ready to challenge.

One thing Charlie Weis made clear is you have to watch a player when they handle both duties so their leg doesn't wear down. That is something Weis and special teams coordinator Clint Bowen will keep a close eye on.

"He will be involved in some way whether he's the punter, the kickoff guy, the kicker or all of the above I don't know," Weis said. "But he will have competition in all three of them. It won't be just a slam dunk he's the guy. Even as a kicker he will have competition. As long as his leg can hold up. You have to be careful about that."

On Wednesday it became clear who some of the new names on the team that will push Doherty for those jobs. Both Austin Barone and Nick Prolago are kickers from the Sunflower State. They are listed right behind Doherty on the depth chart.

Barone played at Colgan High where he made 17-of-19 field goal attempts during his junior and senior year. He was a former soccer player who grew up a Jayhawk fan. Prolago graduated from Olathe Northwest and signed at Butler County Community College. He was a first team, all-state kicker as a senior at Northwest.

On the punting side the challenge will come from Sean Huddleston. He arrived in Lawrence from Fullerton College in California. He averaged 35 yards a punt and downed 12 inside the 20 last season. As a high school senior at Foothill he was the Seaview League Special Team Player of the Year. He was also selected to Southwest Division First Team.

Doherty won't be the only player on special teams with competition. Justin Carnes is listed as the first team long snapper, but he will be challenged by Paul Clark and Justin Puthoff.

Puthoff is a junior from Goodland. Clark is a true freshman from Norland High in Miami. Clark was announced as a walk on to South Florida but ended up in Lawrence. He was part of the Norland team that won the state title last year. He scored a 31 on the ACT and was selected the Dade County Boys Scholar Athlete.


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