JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Quarterbacks and specialists are two contrasting positions, but share the similarity to almost always having a stark effect on a game's outcome.
Jacksonville University Head Coach Ian Shields welcomes back senior punter Ryan Giaratano and redshirt-junior quarterback Rylan Wells while breaking in redshirt-freshman kicker Javier Arce-Ramirez and true freshman K'Lin Epps.
Wells played in nine games last year and made two starts. He completed 61% of his passes for 967 yards, eight touchdowns, and had just one interception. The Tega Cay, S.C. product ran 33 times for 122 yards.
"He is a true dual-threat quarterback and is such a composed football player," said Shields. "There's not a lot that will rattle Wells on any level. He has a great demeanor for a quarterback. "
"Although he is relatively a quiet leader, he has great command and respect," said Shields. "He's talented and we are really pleased with his development. We think he's going to be a great player."
Epps is new to the college game but is doing his best to make the transition smooth. He was a four-year starter for Duchtown High School in Macon, Ga., and was an Honorable Mention All-State in Class 6A, Georgia's largest last year.
"I think that he has had a tremendous training camp. He's a dual-threat player that was highly accomplished in high school," said Shields. "He is a football junkie that has picked up the offense. He's showed some charisma and leadership qualities since he's been on-campus."
Giaratano was a Second Team All-Pioneer Football League honoree last season after punting 54 times for an average of 39.9 yards. He downed 13 punts inside the 20-yard line and boomed a season-long of 67 yards.
"He's punted well in the past and is a real weapon as a punter. We're pleased he is back and excited for him to have a great senior season," said Shields. "The game forever has been about field position. A punter that can flip the field can be help be the difference in a football game."
Arce-Ramirez, a native of Spain and graduate of St. Joseph's Academy in St. Augustine, has kicked his way into a starting role.
"He has had an excellent training camp and is kicking the ball well," said Shields. "I'm happy for him and thrilled for all of us. He has a big leg and I've been pleased with him and our whole kicking operation."
"You will see the kicking game being a big difference in games around the country early in the season. Usually it is the catastrophic mistakes, a clock management issue, or dropped balls because they haven't been comfortable out on the big stage," said Shields. "Unlike the NFL with preseason games, there are no games to work out kinks in college football. They all count."
For Jacksonville football, the count is on. The Dolphins open the season Saturday, Sept. 10 at Liberty.