Written by Brad Kirtley
APSU Sports Information Director
Clarksville, TN – Stephen Stansell sits on the precipice of breaking almost all Austin Peay’s kicking records.
For instance, he just needs three field goals made to pass Tom McMillan as APSU’s all-time leader in that category.
But even Stansell would have to admit 2011 was an aberration in his superb APSU kicking career. He connected on just 10 of 19 field-goal attempts, missing three of his first four and then missed his last two.But the senior, a Fred Mitchell Award nominee again as well as being on the College Football Performance Watch kicker list, is determined to end his career on a strong note.
“He is kicking the ball with much better explosiveness,” APSU coach Rick Christophel said. “Right now, it is all about confidence. It is like golfers and three-point shooters, you have to have your confidence. There is no doubt about the strength of his leg. He can kick 55, 60 yards.
“He is kicking with much more confidence in the preseason, now we just need to clean up his accuracy a little.”
Leg strength also is no issue with sophomore punter Ben Campbell. As a freshman he displayed the ability boot the ball high and deep. The problem was his consistency waned late in the season as his averaged slumped to 37.6 yards per boot by season’s end. In the off-season, Campbell elected to forego playing tight end in 2012 to concentrate completely on his punting chores.
“Ben has just got to keep working on his drop and being more consistent,” Christophel said. “He has a strong leg but it is all about his drop, getting his rhythm. Again, he is a kicker and it is all about confidence. He is going to be all right. Sometimes you have to get away from them and let them work on things; but you also have to remind them of the things they need to get done out there.”
Nick Newsome was a player few people identified on the Austin Peay sidelines and on the field. That was good. Why? Newsome was APSU’s long snapper for four years. In other words, he had almost no bad snaps in those 44 games.
The Govs holder is Walter Spears, the Govs’ back-up kicker who took over the holding chores last year after Jake Ryan was hurt. Spears not only is the holder and back-up kicker, he as well is APSU’s back-up long snapper.
Freshman Evan Toby, of Maryville, also is a back-up kicker.
Terrence Holt’s lasting impression on APSU’s kickoff return game has lingered into a second season. A year ago APSU could not find a consistent replacement for APSU’s and the NCAA’s record holder.
For kickoffs, they again will turn to wide receiver Terrence Oliver. Running back Ean Pemberton has the ability to make people miss while freshman defensive back J.J. Rutledge has the break-away speed. With the kickoff being moved up to the 35 yard line, kick returnees may not be as prominent as in the past.
“With that new rule, Stephen Stansell is going to be able to get it into the end zone without too much problem, making them start at the 25,” Christophel said. “He is a weapon from that respect as well.”
Pemberton, meanwhile, is the leading candidate to handle the punt-return chores while cornerback Montez Carlton is APSU’s other current option. Neither one of them has returned in a game.
“Terrence Holt never did it in a game,” Christophel said. “The one thing I tell them (returners), ‘be confident, do what you want to do, catch the ball-they can’t touch you before you catch it.’ That is how we are approaching it.