This series of articles will break down the Red Raiders roster approaching the 2017 season. Staff members selected their top-15 players currently on the roster and for each one of them there will be a profile with basic information, videos and expectations.
15th – Douglas Coleman (Sophomore, defensive back)
14th – Jack Anderson (Freshman, Offensive Lineman)
13th – D.J. Polite-Bray (Senior, Defensive back)
Position: Place Kicker
Weight: 185 pounds
Hometown: Boerne, Texas
A kicker? Yes, sir, a kicker. In the Red Raiders offense, a reliable kicker is essential, as he has to convert the many extra points that the team earns and be efficient on field goals. Hatfield is valid in both these activities, and he’s thus confident going into his upcoming junior season.
In high school, Hatfield was a touted kicker who recorded 66 points in his senior season and his abilities led him to the selection for the Army All-American Bowl. Despite his background, he was not heavily recruited outside of the lone-star state and he received offers only from Texas Tech, Texas and North Texas.
In 2016, the Red Raiders kicking numbers were interesting, as the team ranked 101st in the nation in attempted field goals with just 14 and ninth in the nation in extra point attempts 70. This is just the nature of the Texas Tech offense, that rarely settles for field goals and tries to play fourth downs (25 attempts, good for 28th in the nation).
Hatfield had an odd season too, as he was one of ten kickers in the nation to convert more than 90% of his field goals, and his 92.9% conversion rate was fourth-best in the nation. On the other side, he had the same exact percentage in converting extra points, and this makes him the 95th kicker in the nation. In the end, no other kicker in the country missed more extra points than Hatfield. This last number is, obviously, the most worrying one, but we must consider that he is one of the kickers who attempts the highest number of XPs.
What can we expect from the special teams in 2017? The kicker is reliable if he improves on extra points, and he can as he was 53/54 in 2015. This new season will be interesting if the Red Raiders improve their return game: the team was 125th in the nation in average yards on kickoff returns and 35th on punt returns. Seeing a special team touchdown would be a nice present, as the last one was in October 2015.