Penn State Coach james franklin has placed particular emphasis on Nittany Lions special teams units during his nine years in office, and this is exemplified by the program’s work on the NCAA transfer portal.
Penn State officially announced the kicker additions on Monday. Alex Felkins (Columbia) and punter Riley Thompson (Florida Atlantic) to the list. Felkins, a favorite walk-on, brings two years of State College eligibility, while Thompson has one more.
Penn State also announced the addition defensive back storm ducka transfer to North Carolina on Monday evening.
Felkins is the latest former Ivy League player to transfer to Penn State, following in the footsteps of offensive linemen Eric Wilson (Harvard) and Nourzad Hunter (Cornel). Felkins previously earned All-Ivy League second team honors in 2021 and All-Ivy League honorable mention in 2021. The 2020 Ivy League season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic .
Felkins made 36 of 54 field goal attempts (67 percent) and he recorded 91 touchdowns on 145 kickoffs in 30 career games. He had 11 of 16 field goal tries this fall and had 4 of 6 for 40+ yards with a game-high 53 yards.
Felkins leaves Columbia as the program’s all-time leader in career points (183) for a placekicker. He is the only player in program history with multiple field goal conversions from 50+ yards (three).
Before going to Columbia, Felkins played high school at Tulsa, Okla. Holland Hall, where he was a MaxPreps Small School First Team All-American and made the 2019 All-American Bowl.
Details of where the Penn State kicker is in 2023 remain to be seen. Kicker Jake Pinegar finished his senior season in redshirt, but he could return for a sixth season because of COVID-19. He made 12 of 16 field goal attempts (75%) this fall and made 52 of 54 field goals while serving as a kickoff specialist during the season.
Sander Sahaydak saw limited time in his redshirt freshman season and attempted just two field goals – making 20 yards, missing 56 yards – and saw time as a kick-off specialist at the start of the season. Walk on Mitchell Groh ended its second season on the roster.
Thompson, meanwhile, adds depth to the punt room, which will have to replace the deceased Barney Love, who has exhausted his eligibility. Thompson joined the FAU roster ahead of preseason camp and shone as the top newcomer in his first year playing American football.
Thompson ranked No. 15 nationally with an average of 45.4 yards per punt, and his 41.4 net yards per punt led all true freshmen. Thompson made just three of his 61 touchdown attempts, while 14 of his punts were caught. He placed 26 inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and hit 15 from at least 50 yards out. He had a length of 71 yards.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Thompson, who turned 23 on Monday, is from Mentone, Australia. According to a Defector story from December 2021 on Prokick Australiawho helps train punters and kickers to play American football, Thompson is a former Australian rules football player who graduated from Deakin University, worked in “his parents’ butcher’s supply factory” and played in a semi-professional league.
For his final year of eligibility, Thompson joins a room that includes Alex Bacchettaa scholarship addition to the class of 2022 who retained freshman eligibility this fall, and Gabe Nwosuwho finished his freshman season in a red shirt.
Felkins and Thompson will work under the Special Teams Coordinator Stacy Collinswho begins his second season in this position in 2023.
Daniel Gallen covers Penn State for Lions247 and 247Sports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Daniel on Twitter at @danieljtgallen.