Oregon State football special teams returns record breakers
This story is the first of six in a summer series breaking down Oregon State football by position group leading up to the first official practices before the season.
The Beavers special teams look to be strong coming into the 2022 season. Oregon State returns redshirt senior punter Luke Loecher and junior placekicker Everett Hayes to the squad and will look to improve on the return end of the equation.
The only special teams player from last year to hit the transfer portal was Champ Flemings, who made his way to Arkansas State.
Loecher was in the upper echelon of Pac-12 punters last year, averaging the fourth-longest punt of the conference with a distance of 45.8 yards per boot, punting the ball 34 times for 1,557 yards. Something to watch out for will be how many times the 6-4 Cedar Falls, Iowa, native gets to punt; Oregon State was fourth in successful third down conversions in the conference and third in fourth down successful conversions.
Loecher has punted 46 times in his OSU career across 23 games for 2,109 yards. That averages out to 45.8 yards a punt, which is the most in OSU history and his 47.1 average last season is Beavers single season record.
On the other side of the field, Oregon State's punt return team will want to increase its output. The squad averaged just 10.5 yards per return for the seventh best mark in the conference, but did so on 14 punt returns for 147 yards, ninth best and just behind Washington State.
Hayes will likely start at the placekicker position (the only other rostered kickers are redshirt freshmen Atticus Sappington and Josh McCormick), but the junior out of Granite Bay, California, will need a little more consistency. Last year the Beavers went 12-18 for 66.7 percent on field goals, tied for ninth best in the conference with UCLA and Utah. But Hayes also connected on a 60-yarder at the buzzer against Colorado last season to send the game into overtime, setting a new OSU record long and marked the second longest made field goal in Pac 12 history.
Hayes was sterling in PATs going 48 of 48, but his 100 percent was the norm rather than the exception. The Beavers were one of six Pac-12 teams to record no misses after a touchdown. However, Oregon State did make the most without a miss; the next closest was Cal (31/31).
Last year's kickoff return numbers saw the Beavers average 20 yards per return, ninth best in the conference. Kickoff return duties will likely fall to 5-8 redshirt sophomore Anthony Gould and 5-11 redshirt freshman Jesiah Irish.
The Beavers finished last season with a 7-6 overall record and the program's first bowl appearance since 2013.
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