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Spring Football Top Performers: Specialists

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RELATED: 2017 Spring Practice Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Week three of Penn State Football spring practice is nearly complete with Saturday's practice marking the ninth for the Nittany Lions.

With a bit of a smaller group in 2017, Penn State special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff noted that although smaller in size, the Nittany Lion specialists have benefited from a year of experience, gaining maturity along the way.

"We played a lot of young guys and if you play young guys and you look at our season, as the season went on, those guys got better and better," Huff said. "They changed their best every day, they came out and competed every day, they set a new standard for themselves each game, each week and it has carried over to the spring." 

Huff also noted that while the entire group is progressing well through spring ball, a few Nittany Lion returners are standing out.

 Named the elder statesman of the group by Huff, kicker Tyler Davis is coming off of yet another successful season having earned the 2016 Vlade Award presented by the Touchdown Club of Columbus in addition to first team All-Big Ten honors by the Big Ten coaches. Perfect on all 62 PAT attempts, Davis went 22-for-24 in field goal attempts with his only two failed tries blocked for a record 91.7 single season field goal accuracy. 

"Tyler is doing a great job kind of leading that group kind of taking that workman's approach to the game and practice each day," Huff said. 

Joining Davis is punter Blake Gillikin, who burst on to the scene to impress from his very first outing in Beaver Stadium as just the third true freshman to start at punter since 1946. Earning All-Big Ten honorable mention distinction, Gillikin finished third in the conference with a 42.8 punting average to break the freshman single season record, earning true freshman All-America honors. 

"Blake has really stepped up," Huff said. "Obviously a year under his belt now, he's feeling better, feeling more comfortable. He's able to kind of correct himself immediately. He does a good job with the younger guys. Right now we have some younger guys who are battling with him holding-wise, Billy Fessler and Danny Pasquariello - a smaller group, a lot more mature but making progress."

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