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SALT LAKE CITY -- The special teams can often make or break a team in close games. Missed or blocked field goals in game-deciding situations are any kickers worst nightmare.
However, a nicely planted ball on the 1-yard line to frustrate the opposing team is what kickers live for. With that, we take a look at some of the players on Utah's special teams.
- Number: 30
- Position: Kicker/Punter
- Class: Sophomore
- Hometown: Petaluma, Calif.
- High School: Petaluma HS
- Height /Weight: 5-11 /183
- Birthdate: 09/05/1991
- Experience: 1VL
- Number: 95
- Position: Kicker/Punter
- Class: Junior
- Hometown: Sandy, Utah
- High School: Brighton HS
- Height /Weight: 6-2 /192
- Birthdate: 03/31/1988
- Experience: SQ
- Number: 86
- Position: Punter
- Class: Junior
- Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
- High School: Judge Memorial HS
- Height /Weight: 6-3 /200
- Birthdate: 07/11/1990
- Experience: 2VL
- Number: 85
- Class: Freshman
- Hometown: New Orleans, La.
- High School: McDonogh 35 HS
- Height /Weight: 5-9 /172
- Birthdate: 02/03/1993
- Experience: HS
Sophomore Nick Marsh is the Utes kickoff specialist, averaging 66.7 yards per kick this season. In 2010, Marsh was the team's leading specialist where he averaged 65.6 yards on Utah's 65 of 78 kickoffs. He is also the team's backup placekicker and punter, averaging 41.6 yards on eight punts this year.
Marsh grew up 45 minutes from San Francisco, with the San Francisco 49ers and San Francisco Giants as his favorite teams. Attracted to the University of Utah for their business program, Marsh decided Utah was a perfect fit to get an education and to play football. Marsh said he was also drawn to Utah because of the success of former Utes kicker Louie Sakoda.
"Louie Sakoda had great success here so I thought I could also earn that same success here as a specialist in this program," Marsh said.
Beginning with a background in soccer, and eventually his abilities in little league football, Marsh honed his skills as a proficient kicker.
"I actually started kicking when I was 12 years old. I was the only kid in the league that could make a field goal," Marsh said. "In little league it was worth two points for a point after so we'd win a lot of games because I could make all the point afters, which is kinda cool."
Prior to every game, Marsh said he developed a ritual, which begun in spring practice, that has helped him to be productive on the field.
"In spring ball I didn't kick very well and then I drank five cups of coffee for one of the scrimmages and I ended up going 11 for 11 and landing a punt on the 5. I kicked off well. It was the best day that I've had," Marsh said. "I've been drinking coffee before each game and during halftime, so that's kinda like my go to thing. I've actually been having a pretty good season."
But Marsh said that's not the only thing he does as part of his game day rituals.
"I put a feather in my shoe," he added. "Joe Phillips did that. ... He did it and so he said 'you should do it with me.' So I've had it there every since then."
Marsh said one of his favorite things about being associated with Utah football is the MUSS and "crazy" Utes fans.
"Our fans are crazy and it's awesome," Marsh said. "And it's pretty cool being a kicker and they know who I am and that makes me excited. ... I hear Oregon's pretty loud, but this is probably one of the loudest places I've ever been to."
Playing his first game in Division 1 football this year, junior Coleman Petersen has become Utah's go-to placekicker. The duties have not been easy for Petersen this season, with the toughest battle coming in week two where he was put in a position to tie up the game against USC on a last-minute field goal attempt.
Growing up, Petersen said he liked watching Jason Elam of the Denver Broncos, who is currently tied for the longest made field goal at 63 yards. In high school, Petersen said he hit a 57-yard field goal, but would love to be consistent at 60 yards.
"I hit a 57 (yard field goal) in high school and I've gotten back to 70's," Petersen said. "I would like to hit a 75 (yard field goal), but realistically, I want to be consistent at 60."
Before each game, Petersen said he uses music to help him calm down and focus on the game.
"I always go out and kick with my headphones on before each game," Petersen said. "I don't really talk to anyone, I just kind of do my own thing. I don't have the same music every time, but it's always like calming music."
Petersen said he was grateful for the help from Louie Sakoda, who has helped to structure Petersen's kicking techniques.
"He worked a lot with me last year," he said. "He reconstructed my whole kicking technique."
As Utah's starting punter for the third consecutive year, Sellwood averages 41.1 yards per punt this season. In his three years with the Utes, Sellwood has 22 punts of 50 yards or longer, with a 57-yard punt this season against BYU. Last season, Sellwood kicked a career-long 67-yard punt against TCU.
Although Sellwood went to high school in Utah, he is originally from South Africa, where he learned to play rugby. "My favorite rubgy team is the Blue Bulls and then obviously my country -- World Cup champs," he said. As rugby fans, Sellwood and Thretton Palamo enjoy their rugby connection.
When Sellwood isn't focusing on football, he said he enjoys being outdoors.
"Off the field, I just like to relax -- relax with friends and go out," he said. "I love outdoors stuff. I like to go skiing, snow mobiling, hiking and just relaxing with the family and things like that."
Freshman receiver Charles Hendersen is Utah's leading punt returner, averaging 12.2 yards per return. In high school, Hendersen was an all-state receiver as a senior and a three-time all-district kick and punt returner.
Making the transition from high school to college isn't always easy, but Hendersen said it's been a good transition and he loves the program.
"It's been good, it's a great football program. We work hard, we prepare," Hendersen said. "And we're hard working team that's ready for every game and the coaches make sure of it. I like being around the environment and everybody."
But Hendersen said he would like to pick up some better techniques in studying film.
"I need to get the defense more down pat," he said. "The players that have been around Utah for a while, they really get it done. They study film and everything and I just try to get that done also."
Hendersen said he goes into every game with his father on his mind.
"I just try to keep my dad in my mind -- he died -- because he showed me everything I know about football," he said. "So I just keep him in my mind and try to work hard for him too."
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