August 23, 2012 |

Eagles need same luck finding kicker as they did with punter

Eastern looking to find replacement for Mike Jarrett

By PAUL DELANEY

Staff Reporter

In 2011 special teams for the Eastern Washington University football team were fortunate to find a freshman punter in Central Valley High School and Washington State University transfer Jake Miller who quickly blossomed.

Miller not only filled the hole left by the graduation of Cameron Zuber but did so in impressive fashion.

Miller, who nearly set a school record with a 44.2 yard average per punt in the 2011 season, was named to the College Sports Journal Freshman All-America Team and earned honorable mention All-Big Sky accolades for his sensational debut season. Miller would have ranked third in FCS had he met the minimum number of punting attempts to qualify.

So EWU is hoping some of that same magic returns as the Eagles try to replace record-setting place-kicker, Mike Jarrett.

“I think we'll continue to watch Jake grow and blossom,” Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin predicted. “He still has a very high ceiling of how good he can be.”

Baldwin said Miller's gotten some big punts off early in his career, but he can hardly wait until he gets more experience. “When he develops his consistency it's going to be special. He already has the big leg, the body and the frame it takes,” Baldwin said.

Jarrett, a guy who Baldwin often said was better in games than practice, broke EWU's career record for kick scoring (236) and the single season record for field goals (16). It was his extra-point that ultimately meant the difference in Eastern's 20-19 come-from-behind victory over Delaware in the 2010 Football Championship Subdivision title game.

An impressive 16-of-18 (88.9 percent) kicking field goals in the 2011 season, Jarrett will be replaced by either senior Jimmy Pavel or junior Kevin Miller. Pavel handled kickoff duties for the Eagles in 2011, and Miller held the job the two previous seasons when he also made 2-of-3 field goals.

“It's going to be tough to fill Mike Jarrett's shoes after making nearly 90 percent of his field goals last year,” Baldwin said. “But we'll have a nice competition between Jimmy and Kevin.

Pavel and Miller both handled kickoff duties in the past, but neither of them have had a lot of field goal experience. “I'm excited about the battle at the kicker position,” Baldwin said. “Even going into last year it was a battle for Mike, so it's never set in stone.”

Eastern also returns one of the league's premier long snappers in senior Jake Potter.

Potter is inconspicuous, which means he's good, Baldwin said with a laugh. “It's kind of nice when you forget about your long snapper, because that means they are so consistently good that you don't notice them,” he said. “When you aren't thinking about them, that's usually a good thing.

“He needs to keep working, he needs to keep improving his craft and we want to see his snap times get better,” Baldwin said, “but he's improved already with all the situations he's been put in.”

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

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