A kickoff specialist is a special teams position in gridiron football. They are responsible for kicking the ball in the kickoff. These players tend to have a strong leg, often capable of making touchbacks, and capable of keeping a ball in the bounds of the field of play but do not have the accuracy or technique required to be a full-time placekicker or punter.
Placekickers usually double their role as kickoff specialists; pure kickoff specialists are now seldomly-used. Some kickoff specialists later become full-time placekickers, while some are marginal placekickers who are soon out of football.
Due to modern roster restrictions (and a 2016 rule change discouraging the kicking of touchbacks by awarding the receiving team possession at the 25-yard line instead of the 20), most NFL teams do not elect to have a kickoff specialist, and instead use their placekickers (or, less often, punters) on kickoffs. The most recent NFL kickoff specialist was Jordan Gay, who played the position for the Buffalo Bills under special teams coach Danny Crossman from 2014 to 2016. Prior to Gay's being claimed off waivers, Buffalo's kickoff duties were handled by Billy Cundiff and John Potter, who likewise were kickoff specialists during their time in Buffalo; for 2017, the team brought in former high school kicking phenom Austin Rehkow as a contender for the position but opted not to use a kickoff specialist that year. Other players who have spent at least some time as kickoff specialist for an NFL team since 2006 include Stephen Hauschka, Rhys Lloyd, David Buehler, Todd Carter, and Brandon McManus. As of the end of the 2014 NFL season, punters Thomas Morstead, Matt Bosher, Sam Martin, Pat McAfee, and Michael Koenen handle kickoffs. There is at least one example of a backup quarterback serving as a kickoff specialist; in 1965, Bob Timberlake did so for the New York Giants. In high school football and most other professional leagues, such as the Arena Football League and, until recent roster expansions, the Canadian Football League, one kicker handles all three kicking positions. Even college football teams usually do not use kickoff specialists, despite the much larger rosters at that level; however, if an underclassman has a stronger leg than the upperclassman kicker, but is not yet ready to assume placekicker or punter duties, they will usually handle kickoff duties while being the primary backup placekicker and punter.
A drop kick is a type of kick in various codes of football. It involves a player dropping the ball and then kicking it as it touches the ground.
In American football, a touchback is a ruling which is made and signaled by an official when the ball becomes dead on or behind a team's own goal line and the opposing team gave the ball the momentum, or impetus, to travel over or across the goal line but did not have possession of the ball when it became dead. Since the 2018 season, touchbacks have also been awarded in college football on kickoffs that end in a fair catch by the receiving team between its own 25-yard line and goal line. Such impetus may be imparted by a kick, pass, fumble, or in certain instances by batting the ball. A touchback is not a play, but a result of events that may occur during a play. A touchback is the opposite of a safety with regard to impetus since a safety is scored when the ball becomes dead in a team's end zone after that team — the team whose end zone it is — caused the ball to cross the goal line.
Placekicker, or simply kicker, is the player in gridiron football who is responsible for the kicking duties of field goals and extra points. In many cases, the placekicker also serves as the team's kickoff specialist or punter.
A punter (P) in gridiron football is a special teams player who receives the snapped ball directly from the line of scrimmage and then punts (kicks) the football to the opposing team so as to limit any field position advantage. This generally happens on a fourth down in American football and a third down in Canadian football. Punters may also occasionally take part in fake punts in those same situations, when they throw or run the football instead of punting.
A kickoff is a method of starting a drive in gridiron football. Typically, a kickoff consists of one team – the "kicking team" – kicking the ball to the opposing team – the "receiving team". The receiving team is then entitled to return the ball, i.e., attempt to advance it towards the kicking team's end zone, until the player with the ball is tackled by the kicking team, goes out of bounds, scores a touchdown, or the play is otherwise ruled dead. Kickoffs take place at the start of each half of play, the beginning of overtime in some overtime formats, and after scoring plays.
William Ambrose Cundiff is a former American football placekicker. He played college football for Drake University, and was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2002.
Rhys John Lloyd is a former American football kickoff specialist. He was signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2005. He played college football at Minnesota.
In gridiron football, the holder is the player who receives the snap from the long snapper during field goal or extra point attempts made by the placekicker. The holder is set on one knee seven yards behind the line-of-scrimmage. Before the play begins, he places the hand which is closest to the placekicker on the ground in a location designated by the kicker's foot, with his forward hand ready to receive the snap. After receiving the snap, the holder will place the football on the turf, or block, ideally with the laces facing the uprights and the ball accurately placed where the backhand was initially, then balancing the ball with one or two fingers until the ball is kicked.
David Michael Rayner is a former American football placekicker in the National Football League. He was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He played college football at Michigan State. Rayner shares the NFL record for most teams played on with J. T. O'Sullivan, and Billy Cundiff; each has played for 11 teams.
In American football, the specific role that a player takes on the field is referred to as their "position". Under the modern rules of American football, both teams are allowed 11 players on the field at one time and have "unlimited free substitutions", meaning that they may change any number of players during any "dead ball" situation. This has resulted in the development of three task-specific "platoons" of players within any single team: the offense, the defense, and the so-called 'special teams'. Within these three separate "platoons", various positions exist depending on the jobs that the players are doing.
Michael J. Koenen is a former American football punter. He was signed by the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2005. He played college football at Western Washington.
A field goal (FG) is a means of scoring in gridiron football. To score a field goal, the team in possession of the ball must place kick, or drop kick, the ball through the goal, i.e., between the uprights and over the crossbar. The entire ball must pass through the vertical plane of the goal, which is the area above the crossbar and between the uprights or, if above the uprights, between their outside edges. American football requires that a field goal must only come during a play from scrimmage while Canadian football retains open field kicks and thus field goals may be scored at any time from anywhere on the field and by any player. The vast majority of field goals, in both codes, are place kicked. Drop kicked field goals were common in the early days of gridiron football but are almost never done in modern times. In most leagues, a successful field goal awards three points.
The place kick is a type of kicking play commonly used in American football, association football (soccer), Canadian football, rugby league, and rugby union.
A return specialist or kick returner is a player on the special teams unit of a gridiron football team who specializes in returning punts and kickoffs. There are few players who are exclusively return specialists; most also play another position such as wide receiver, defensive back, or running back. The special teams counterpart of a return specialist is a kicking specialist.
David Jonathan Buehler is a former American football placekicker in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys. He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Southern California.
Edward Lynn Johnson is a former professional American and Canadian football punter. He most recently played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. He played college football at Idaho State.
A Kicking specialist or kick specialist and sometimes referred to a "kicker", especially when referring to a placekicker, is a player on gridiron football special teams who performs punts, kickoffs, field goals and/or point after touchdowns. The special teams counterpart of a kicking specialist is a return specialist.
Jordan Lane Gay is a former American football kickoff specialist. He has also been a punter and a kicker. Gay signed with the Carolina Panthers after going undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft. He has also been a member of the New York Giants, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans.
Kaare Vedvik is a Norwegian professional gridiron football placekicker and punter for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League (CFL). He played college football at Marshall and signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2018. He has also been a member of several other National Football League (NFL) teams.