Often overlooked in a football game – although it shouldn't be – is the importance of special teams.
The kicking game, however, isn't glossed over in Ashland University's football program. In 2015, the Eagles ranked seventh in NCAA Division II in net punting average (37.7) and 21st in kickoff-return average (23.1).
AU's special teams begins with senior punter Austin Bruns, who earned first-team All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors last fall. He paced the conference with a 45.6-yard gross average, which also set a new school record. Bruns, a former quarterback and the Eagles' No. 2 tight end, also keeps opposing punt-return units honest with his ability to run and throw out of punt formation.
Junior kicker Aidan Simenc was 11-for-13 on field goals and 52-of-55 on extra points in 2015, and is 18-for-18 on field goals inside of 40 yards as an Eagle. He also had nine touchbacks and averaged 60.6 yards on 75 kickoffs last season.
Junior cornerback Dale Irby brought a level of excitement on kickoff returns in 2015, averaging 24.9 yards per return – the best single-season average for an Eagle since 2010. Irby also averaged 7.4 yards per punt return.