Arizona sophomore proves there is more to special teams than meets the eye

he crowd went ga-ga for BoBo.

It happened late in the fourth quarter of

Arizona's 44-0 victory over New Mexico State. Tom BoBo, a member of the Wildcats' punt team, flung a would be Aggie punt blocker over his right shoulder as if he was swiping at a fly.

The crowd went crazy, but BoBo, a 6-foot-2, 197-pound sophomore, was a little more practical about it.

"The guy just kind of jumped," BoBo said. "With his momentum and me hitting him, he just jumped ... I just launched him a little higher. I don't think anyone can go that high on his own. It was pretty cool."

The end result was that punter Matt Peyton got the kick off, which any special teamer will tell you is the sole role of the punt team.

Special teams has a stereotype of a bunch of reckless madmen with mimimal regard for their bodies' well-being. That's just the kickoff team, BoBo said. Getting a successful punt off requires a little more finesse.

"Kickoffs are a full-speed play, 100 percent all the way," BoBo said, who has also served on the kickoff team. "You just run down the field as fast as you can with total disregard for yourself. You go to break people up.

"The punting team is more finesse, you're concerned about alignment. Then you bust your butt getting down the field to make the tackle."

BoBo is a wing on the punt team, which means he blocks the opponent's No. 1 threat from the outside. On the punt block team, which has been dubbed the "Raiders," BoBo is the No. 3 position, which makes him a primary punt blocker. While blocking a punt is the goal of every member of the Raiders, they put more emphasis on not getting a costly roughing-the-punter penalty or fumbling the kick.

"Our goal every time is to come back with the ball, just get it back," BoBo said.

"Timing is everything when it comes to blocking a punt. You need a great jump off the ball without getting hit. Not getting touched would help."

Ironic, because BoBo suffered a season-ending knee injury last year during Arizona's opener against Texas-El Paso when he flew down the field untouched on a special-teams play.

"It was the last kickoff of our opener last year and I blew out my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament)," BoBo said. "I was running full speed and was the first one down the field on the return. The returner was inside of me and I cut to hit him. I planted and that was it. I was out for the year."

Out but not down.

BoBo, from Tempe's Marcos de Niza High School, spent the year rehabbing his knee with the hope of playing again.

"Rehab was hell," BoBo said. "It was every day and it wasn't fun. It was a lot of hard work. I had surgery and couldn't run for two months. Breaking up the scar tissue, that's where the pain was.

"Then I worked on increasing my mobility and building up my right leg because it atrophied so much."

The scar, about a half-inch wide and four inches long, sits prominently on BoBo's right knee. But the scar, and the chance of further injury, does not sit in BoBo's mind when he enters a game.

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