Syracuse Football 2012: Special Teams Preview

NEW YORK NY - DECEMBER 30: Ross Krautman #37 of the Syracuse Orange kicks off against the Kansas State Wildcats during the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on December 30 2010 in New York New York. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

SB Nation New York is doing a position-by-position preview of the Syracuse Orange football program. Here's Part I: The Special Teams.

The Syracuse Orange football program will begin its 2012-13 season this Saturday, as the Northwestern Wildcats visit the Carrier Dome (12 p.m. ET on ESPN2). The season opener begins, hopefully, a bounce-back campaign for the Orange who're looking to improve on last season's 5-7 record.

To prepare for the season, SB Nation New York is previewing each aspect of the SU football program. Today, we're breaking down the special teams.

Place kicker: Ross Krautman, Jr.

Usually, its not good when a kicker is one of your primary offensive weapons. But that's what the Franklin Lakes, N.J. native has been for the Orange the last few seasons.

Last year, Krautman led the Big East Conference in field goal percentage (78.9) despite making just 15 of 19 attempts, his longest being 40 yards.

Krautman's freshman season was impressive, as he earned Big East Second-Team honors after making 18 of 19 field goal attempts, the longest coming from 48 yards.

Though, Krautman has been pretty reliable for the Orange his most notable moment could be this blunder, last season, against Toledo.

A solid year could place Krautman among the Big East scoring leaders and would erase all those "bad" memories.

Punter: Jonathan Fisher, So.

The Oakfield, NY native returns for his second year after averaging 39.2 yards per punt last season, after he began the year as SU's backup. Fisher is expected to be the full-time punter this season.

Kickoffs: Ryan Norton, Fr.

Norton will be the new addition to the Syracuse special teams. The Garden City, NY native is expected to use his big leg to blast kickoffs into the back of the end zone for touchbacks, something he did 47 times as a high school senior.

Kick returner: Jeremiah Kobena, So.

The small-framed wide receiver (6-foot, 182 pounds) has by far the most play-making potential of any SU player, and that's why he will be handling the kickoffs.

Last season, Kobena played in all 12 games for Syracuse and compiled over 1,000 returns yards. The Cardinal Hayes alum (New York, NY) was always a threat to take a kick or punt back for a touchdown, but inconsistency has hampered his overall reliability.

If Kobena fails to live up to his potential, the Orange's second option on the kick return will be sophomore defensive back Brandon Reddish. Though, Reddish may not have the top-end speed or quickness of Kobena, he does have a lot of athletic ability and a strong football IQ.

Punter returner: Steven Rene, Jr.

Entering the preseason, Rene was listed as the No. 1 punt returner on the depth chart. But things changed a bit when an upper-body injury forced the running back to miss the last two weeks of practice and likely the season opener Northwestern -- and maybe more.

The loss of the sure-handed Rene, who returned 10 punts for a disappointing average of 2.2 yards, doesn't hurt the return game's firepower, but will make head coach Doug Marrone sweat a bit more each time a punt goes in the air.

In Rene's place will probably be sophomore safety Ritchy Desir but junior running back Prince-Tyson Gulley could also be an option. Both player returned at least one punt last season.

For more on Syracuse football, visit the SB Nation blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician.

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