By Lance Tominaga.
In football, a lot of emphasis is placed on the offense and defense, but knowledgeable fans know that special teams play often makes the difference between winning and losing a game. Special teams affect field position and can change the momentum of a contest with a blocked punt, long kick return or costly turnover. University of Hawaii football fans have been fortunate enough to witness some the game’s best special team performers display their talents while wearing a Rainbow Warrior uniform. Here are our picks for the best special teams players in UH history:
Placekicker: JASON ELAM. Can there be any doubt? Finished his collegiate career with 395 points, the most in UH and WAC history, and third in NCAA history. Successfully converted 79 of 100 FG attempts. Set the school record for longest FG (56 yards) against BYU In 1992. Later won two Super Bowl rings with the Denver Broncos.
Punter: RIGOBERTO SANCHEZ. We went with Sanchez over Matt McBriar, but you could make a case for either. Sanchez tops the list of punters with a career average of 44.84 yards a punt. Was 10th in the nation in punting average during his senior season.
Kickoff Returner: CHAD OWENS. Tops all UH returners with a 29.4-yard average in his collegiate career. Took it to the house twice. Honorable mention goes to Mike Edwards, who had returns of 90-plus yards three times in 2012.
Punt Returner: CHAD OWENS. As good as he was as a kick returner, “Mighty Mouse” was even more electrifying when returning punts. Earned Second-Team All-American honors in 2004, when he set an NCAA record with five punt returns for TDs.
Long-snapper: JAKE INGRAM. Originally a walk-on defensive lineman, Ingram made the switch to long-snapper the fourth game into his freshman season. The Mililani product started every game since then and was drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Played all 16 games that season for the Patriots.
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