Pair of Tennessee Specialists Named To Preseason Watch Lists

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    (Photo by Kent Gidley)

    Tennessee punter Paxton Brooks and kicker Chase McGrath were named to national preseason watchlists Wednesday.

    Brooks, a senior from South Carolina, was named to the Ray Guy Award Watch List. McGrath was named to the Lou Graza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award Watch List.

    The Tennessee punter was one of 51 candidates named to the watch list while McGrath was one of 30 named to the watch list for the nation’s top kicker.

    Brooks has started much of the last two seasons for Tennessee, averaging 43.6 yards per punt in 2020. Brooks’ longest punt of the 2020 campaign was 61 yards and he pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line 17 times while recording just four touch backs.

    McGrath is a transfer kicker who spent the last four seasons at USC. The Newport Beach, California native didn’t kick in 2020, but had a solid resume as a starter in 2019.

    During the 2019 season, McGrath made 14-of-17 field goal attempts, missing just one kick under 40-yards and going 4-of-6 on kicks 40+ yards. McGrath is a former teammate of receiver Velus Jones Jr. who talked about the Southern California transfer last week at media days.

    “Chase McGrath with his clutch field goals,” Jones said. “You probably remember the Texas game that was played at USC a couple years ago, won that for us. Also, he has a record tied for most field goals at USC. Chase is a veteran, and I know he’s going to win some games for us.”

    Entering the season with six games that Tennessee is likely to be within a touchdown favorite or underdog in, special teams could sneakily decide a few games. 

    Josh Heupel and his staff are hoping McGrath and Brooks will play up to their preseason billing in the head coach’s first season.

    Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.