2014 Preview: Special Teams a Strength for TCU
Aug. 20, 2014
FORT WORTH, Texas -- GoFrogs.com concludes its preview of the 2014 TCU football team with a look at the special teams.
TCU's special teams project to again be a strength in 2014.
Jaden Oberkrom (6-3, 187, Jr.) and Ethan Perry (6-4, 230, Jr.) return for their third season as the Horned Frogs' placekicker and punter, respectively. In the return game, B.J. Catalon (5-9, 190, Jr.) and Cameron Echols-Luper (6-0, 190, So.) both ranked among the national leaders while earning postseason honors.
Oberkrom, a 2013 honorable-mention All-Big 12 selection, was also first-team Academic All-Big 12 and Capital One Academic All-District. He appears on the watch list for this year's Lou Groza Award, presented to the nation's top placekicker. He was a semifinalist as a freshman in 2012.
An Arlington, Texas, native, Oberkrom was 14-of-18 on field goals last season, including a 13-of-14 mark on attempts inside 50 yards. His career-best 56-yard field goal to give the Horned Frogs the lead at Kansas State with 2:13 to play tied for the second-longest made kick at TCU and was just 1-yard shy of a school record. It also gave him two of the four-longest field goals in TCU history.
Oberkrom was perfect on his 37 extra-point attempts, giving him a streak of 79 consecutive makes which ties the Horned Frogs' career record and is third nationally among active placekickers.
Ryan DeNucci (5-10, 195, Sr.) provides depth at placekicker behind Oberkrom.
Perry averaged 40.3 yards last season and ranked among the national leaders by placing 36.3 percent of his punts (29-of-80) inside the 20. He had just four touchbacks on the year, including only one in the final seven games.
Perry had a punt of at least 54 yards in each of the final four contests and in five of the last six games. Opponents had just 17 punt returns on the season.
Catalon and Echols-Luper entered fall camp as the top kickoff returners on the depth chart. Echols-Luper is also a candidate to handle punt returns again this fall.
Catalon, TCU's leading rusher the last two seasons, was honorable-mention All-Big 12 as a kickoff returner. He placed second in the Big 12 and 16th nationally with his 26.5 return average.
Catalon's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against LSU gave TCU at least one punt or kickoff return for a score in six of the last seven seasons. The 100-yard return also tied for second longest in TCU history while setting an AT&T Stadium record for a collegiate game.
Echols-Luper was a Freshman All-America punt returner by Phil Steele Publications. He ranked third in the Big 12 and 16th nationally with his team-best 13.4 yards per return, including season-long efforts of 51 yards versus SMU and 41 yards against Baylor.
Fellow wide receiver Deante' Gray has also made his mark on punt returns for the Horned Frogs. On his first collegiate touch, in his first game as a true freshman in 2012, he returned a Grambling State punt 70 yards for a touchdown. It was part of his TCU single-game record 160 punt return yards in the game.
Gray led TCU last season with seven special teams tackles.
BY THE NUMBERS:
56 - Yards on Jaden Oberkrom's career-long field goal at Kansas State last season, leaving him just one yard shy of the TCU record for distance (Michael Reeder, 57 yards, 1996)
79 - Consecutive PATs made by Jaden Oberkrom, tying him for the TCU career record and ranking third nationally among active placekickers
100 - Yards on B.J. Catalon's kickoff return for a touchdown against LSU last season
160 - TCU single-game record for punt return yards by Deante' Gray in his Horned Frogs debut in 2012
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