A Brief History Of Penn State’s Left-Footed Kickers & Punters

Left-footed special teamers are a bit of a rare breed in football, but Penn State brought in one of its own last week when Sander Sahaydak verbally committed to the Nittany Lions’ class of 2021.

Sahaydak is considered the No. 1 kicking prospect in the nation by Kohl’s Kicking and hails from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. With Sahaydak’s commitment, we started to think about a lefty history of special teamers in Happy Valley. While New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick specializes in the art of the lefty punter, what about left-footed Nittany Lions nailing big-time kicks or pinning opponents deep in their own territory?

Here’s a look at some of the most notable lefty special teamers that have played for the Nittany Lions.

Kevin Kelly: Kicker, 2005-2008

This left-footed kicker is widely considered to be the best special teamer to ever wear the blue and white. Kelly racked up an impressive 425 points during his time in Happy Valley, which puts him firmly at the top of Penn State’s all-time scoring list. He also sits at the number one all-time spot for field goals converted with a whopping 78. Sam Ficken is number two on that list with 54.

The Langhorne, Pennsylvania native started at kicker during all four of his seasons at Penn State. It looked like Kelly was going to have a bit of an ugly end to his freshman campaign when he missed two key field goals against Florida State in the 2006 Rose Bowl, but he bounced back by nailing a 29-yard game-winning field goal against the Seminoles.

Kelly put up plenty of special teams highlights throughout his time at Penn State, including a rushing touchdown in 2007 against Michigan State on a fake field goal.

One of the placekicker’s most productive seasons was his senior year in 2008. He nailed 20 of his 24 field goal attempts, hit all 60 extra points, and scored a career-high 120 points on the season. Kelly was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection after that productive campaign.

The Nittany Lion never made it to the NFL, but he played one season with the Harrisburg Stampede of the American Indoor Football Association in 2010.

Jeremy Kapinos: Punter, 2003-2006

While he wasn’t in a position to score points, you could also make the argument that this lefty from Virginia is one of the best special teamers to ever play at Penn State. Kapinos currently holds the record for all-time most yards punted for the Nittany Lions with 10,396. The only other player to be in the 10,000-yard mark is Blake Gillikin, who is in second with 10,283.

Along with that impressive stat, Kapinos also has the fourth-highest average distance on his punts at Penn State with 41.8 yards. He attempted 249 punts over the course of his Nittany Lion career, was even named a Ray Guy Award finalist after his 2006 senior season in which he tied a career-high 41.9 yards per punt.

The punter wasn’t selected in the 2007 NFL Draft but eventually signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent. He went on to play five total seasons in the NFL with the Jets, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, and Pittsburgh Steelers. He averaged 43.2 yards per punt over the course of his professional career and even booted 11 kickoffs.

Jeremy Boone: Punter, 2006-2009

Boone carried on Kapinos’ lefty legacy at punter right after he graduated Penn State and headed for the NFL. While he leaves Happy Valley with just 6,512 total yards punted, the Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania native leads the all-time list with an average of 43.1 yards per punt.

After assuming the role of Kapinos’ backup as a freshman, Boone attempted a career-high 59 punts as a sophomore in 2007 for an average of 43 yards. That productivity allowed him to lead the Big Ten in punting average in 2007 and 2008. The punter played a key role in Penn State’s 2008 run to the Rose Bowl as a senior, as 15 of his 39 attempts landed inside the opponent’s 15-yard line.

Along with his role as a punter, Boone held kicks for fellow lefty Kevin Kelly during his time in Happy Valley.

Daniel Pasquariello: Punter, 2014-2017

Pasquariello didn’t have the most illustrious special teams career at Penn State due to the fact that Blake Gillikin arrived on campus during his junior campaign, but the lefty did manage to hit some quality punts for the Nittany Lions.

The Melbourne, Australia native was relied upon as Penn State’s starting punter during his first two seasons in Happy Valley and was even named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team after the 2014 season. During his sophomore campaign, Pasquariello nailed 58 punts for a career-high 2,314 yards and a 39.9-yard average.

Despite the fact that Gillikin took over the punting duties during the Aussie’s junior and senior seasons, he was still a productive option on special teams and likely served as a helpful leader for the younger Gillikin.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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