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Herd football team yet to announce starting kicker for season opener

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Joan C. Edwards football stadium.

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Joan C. Edwards football stadium.

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As the 2015 Thundering Herd football campaign approaches, many players have won and lost their respective position battles.

The starting kicker spot, however, is one that still needs to be filled before the season opens against the Purdue Boilermakers this Sunday.

Last season, kicker Justin Haig proved to be a valuable piece to the Herd’s conference championship puzzle. Haig converted on all four of his field goal attempts en route to a 26-23 victory over Louisiana Tech.

With Haig’s graduation last spring, the team has two kickers that are pushing hard to become the new week one starter.

Amoreto Curraj, a redshirt sophomore from Tampa, Fla, is competing for the starting job with another redshirt sophomore, Nick Smith. Both players were backups to Haig, but have collegiate kicking experience at Marshall.

With Haig primarily kicking extra points and field goals, Curraj joined the team as a walk-on kickoff specialist in 2013. He belted a total of 52 touchbacks that year, ranking fourth in the nation. In 2014, Curraj was redshirted in his sophomore year due to recurring back and groin injuries.

Nick Smith was also a walk-on in 2013, but the Plain City, Ohio native was redshirted when Amoreto Curraj was put on kickoff duty.

“When you’ve got two talented young men that are vying for a position, you’ve got to keep competition at the position. That’s how we’re going to move forward.””

— Todd Goebbel

However, he gained an opportunity to show his worth in last season’s Conference USA Championship. Smith assumed kickoff duties for the game, but had just three kicks. He also kicked in last season’s Boca Raton Bowl against Northern Illinois, when he had two touchbacks on nine kickoffs in the victory.

Both players reportedly have made strong cases for themselves in training camp, according to head coach Doc Holliday. Holliday declined to name a starter at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

Todd Goebbel, who was initially hired as the team’s tight ends coach this past February, but has, instead, filled the role of special teams coordinator throughout the offseason addressed the logjam at the top of the depth chart after Saturday’s scrimmage.

“To be honest with you, it’s going to be a competition,” Goebbel said. “Right now, Amoreto Curraj is the leader in the clubhouse. When you’ve got two talented young men that are vying for a position, you’ve got to keep competition at the position. That’s how we’re going to move forward.”

Goebbel said that Curraj’s clubhouse lead doesn’t necessarily mean that he has been named the starting kicker for Sunday’s opener, as an official decision will not be made until later this week.

Josh Hughes can be contacted at [email protected]

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