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Countdown to UVA Football: #98 Trace Halpern

We begin our countdown to the 2016 football season with the highest number on the Hoos roster. There are 98 days remaining until the the Bronco Mendenhall era officially begins. And with that, today we're looking at redshirt freshman kicker Trace Halpern.

Position: P/PK
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 180
Year: Redshirt Freshman
Hometown: Brentwood, TN
Twitter: @TraceHalpern

The Hoos are pretty well set at punter right now. Nicholas Conte averaged nearly 45 yards per punt, good for 14th in the nation. At PK, though, the Hoos are looking to replace Ian Frye, who made 79% of his FGs in 3 seasons (the past 2 seasons as the #1 PK). You may think that 79% doesn't seem all that great, but Frye missed just 1 FG inside 40 yards over the past 2 years. His career long was 53 yards. Frye was a very good PK for the Hoos.

But alas, Frye has moved on. The Hoos have several options at PK, most notably senior Dylan Sims. Sims was the primary KO man for the past 2 years. Last year, half of Sims' KOs went for touchbacks and he averaged over 63 yards per kick. There is, however, some debate over whether Sims has the accuracy to be the Hoos primary FG kicker.

Trace Halpern is listed as a P, but his primary position according to reports from the various kicking camps is placekicker. His highlight video above shows him doing mostly placekicker, although he also gets a few punts in towards the end of the video. The punts look good, although it is sometimes tough to tell where they land in the video. He certainly appears to get good height on the kicks.

In High School, Halpern also played OLB. He also ran track and he’s listed as running a 4.56 40 yard dash. Obviously, at his size, he isn’t going to play LB for the Hoos. Or any other position for that matter. But a kicker with that kind of speed makes you think about the potential for fake FGs or punts. Halpern is also a black-belt in Aikido, so he’s somewhat to keep an eye if there’s ever a fight on the field.

Halpern appears to have a big leg, as he booms some FGs well beyond the uprights. He also has some KOs that go clear over the endzone. It is a very impressive display of leg strength.

Halpern is a walk-on, as are most specialists. He was, however, recruited by several ACC schools including UNC. There's a good chance he'll earn a scholarship at some point in his career if he becomes a starter.

Conte almost definitely has the punter job sewn up. Sims is the likely starter at PK. However, Halpern's leg may give him a chance to be the KOS for the Hoos this year. And since both Conte and Sims will be moving on after 2016, Halpern will have a good shot to be one of the primary specialists for the Hoos in 2017 and beyond.