There’s a lot of excitement behind Brent Cimaglia this year given how he went 10-of-13 last year and four-of-six from beyond 40 yards. But Tennessee football has no proven backup kicker behind him, so if he does get hurt, which would be extremely unlikely as a place-kicker, the Vols could be in serious trouble.
Make no mistake, a very good kicker makes a huge difference in a game. The same holds true for a very bad kicker. Behind Cimaglia, walk-ons Marshall Ware and Toby Wilson are the guys. However, neither have ever played a snap of college ball.
Now, the punting side of the Vols seems to refute this special teams issue in two ways. For one thing, Jeremy Pruitt has a walk-on as his starting punter. But he also has a highly touted recruit who serves as his kickoff specialist in Paxton Brooks. So that shows that walk-ons can play and that Brook, as a kickoff man, could maybe replace Cimaglia.
However, Brooks is actually a punter. And punting is a much more replaceable position than place-kicking anyway. The Vols need place-kicking to be a major advantage as they try to develop this year in what Pruitt hopes to be a turnaround season. Losing Cimaglia could take that potential advantage away in a heartbeat.