The Testudo Times summer preview series has hit the home stretch. Over the past couple months, we’ve taken a look at the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs. Now we’ve worked up to the specialist positions.
Punting will be a position to watch in 2019, as Mike Locksley will have to replace three-year starter Wade Lees, who transferred to UCLA. With the hiring of John Papuchis as special teams coordinator, the Terrapins will be implementing a new scheme in the punting game to transition away from the rugby-style punting Lees used. Maryland will attempt more directional punting with a focus on hangtime to help out the punt coverage team rather than relying on a rollout.
Bentley Faulkner, No. 97
Hometown: Greensboro, N.C.
High school: Grimsley High School
Faulkner was the lone punter in camp this spring, giving him a potential edge on the two freshmen who joined the team in the summer. He split punting duties in the spring game with kicker Mike Shinsky, but both had a day to forget despite not facing a rush. Wind played a factor, and Faulkner’s two punts went for 31 and 20 yards (Shinsky’s five punts went for 130 total yards). With those numbers, Faulkner left the door wide open for competition this fall.
Anthony Pecorella, No. 98
Hometown: Malverne, N.Y.
High school: Chaminade
Pecorella committed to the Terps just three days before National Signing Day despite the short amount of time being recruited by the new staff. According to Kohl’s Kicking, Pecorella was ranked as the No. 73 punter in the Class of 2019 and listed as a 4.5-star prospect. During his two-year varsity career, he averaged 43.8 yards per punt, pinned 41 punts inside the 20-yard line and had a long of 72 yards.
Based on his ranking, Pecorella appears to be the early favorite in this competition. He signed as a preferred walk-on, but a strong season could land him on scholarship going forward.
Colton Spangler, No. 99
Hometown: Pasadena, Md.
High school: Chesapeake
Spangler was a multi-sport athlete at Chesapeake High School who agreed to come to Maryland as a preferred walk-on. Kohl’s Kicking ranked him just one spot behind Pecorella in its 2019 rankings, although Pecorella might be the better short-term option.
In addition to providing an extra leg in the punting competition, Spangler has experience kicking field goals and handling kickoff duties. As a senior, he averaged 42 yards on 31 punts while also knocking home 41 PATs and adding 30 touchbacks when handling kickoff duties. In the 3A East Region title game, Spangler had quite the all-around performance by making three field goals, three extra points and catching a touchdown pass.
The 2019 season will be a test.
With the new punting and coverage scheme being put in place, it will almost certainly take some time for this team to hit its stride this fall. The Terrapins will also obviously hope to rely much more on kicker Joseph Petrino and less on the punters, but punting could become a strength once the right talent is paired with the right scheme.
This season will be telling about whether the staff believes it should extend an offer to a punter in the Class of 2020. Calvert Hall punter Peter Moore, who ranks as a five-star punting prospect, discussed his walk-on offer with Testudo Times earlier this summer and would be a prime candidate to receive a full scholarship if his talents are needed.