Football is a game of phases and the Roughnecks have developed a special teams unit that will no doubt be able to take care of this critical game phase each week. Just as recent NFL games including the Wild Card weekend show, the kicking game is absolutely an integral part of head coach June Jones weekly game plan and any XFL team who overlooks special teams will certainly pay the price when the regular season opens up on February 8th.
The Roughnecks special teams unit is led by veteran coach Dennis McKnight. Coach McKnight brings a great pedigree to the XFL and the Roughnecks staff having played as a guard in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles. Coach McKnight has a stellar coaching resume as well having worked in the college ranks at Lamar University and in the CFL, lastly as the Special Teams Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and is well known to Coach Jones.
— Houston Roughnecks (@XFLRoughnecks) January 8, 2020
Handling the kicking duties for the Roughnecks is veteran kicker Sergio Castillo. Coming out of the college ranks from West Texas A & M, Castillo played in the 2014 preseason with the Atlanta Falcons. Castillo found his kicking talents suitable to the CFL, and found himself on the rosters with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, serving as a punter with the Ottawa Redblacks, and in the 2017 season served as the kicker for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats until a season-ending ACL injury sidelined him. Castillo also played for the San Antonio Commanders of the defunct AAF,, and recently just finished up the CFL season with the BC Lions until he was selected in the XFL Draft by the Roughnecks. Castillo brings experience and leg range to H-Town and he’ll have an immediate impact on the Roughnecks offensive game plan.
Taking up the punting duties for the Roughnecks is Austin Rehkow out of the University of Idaho. Rehkow has been in training camps with the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants and also punted for the defunct Salt Lake Stallions of the AAF Rehkow will easily be able to serve as a backup kicker should the Roughnecks need one; in high school he kicked a 67 yard field goal which is still the Washington state high school record. Sergio Castillo played with the CFL Ottawa Redblacks as a punter so both players can assume each other’s jobs if need be this season.
Rounding out the primary special teams unit is long snapper Colton Taylor. Taylor hails from Virginia Tech and is famous for making “trick” long snaps. Taylor will get his XFL chance to prove the adage about long snappers: you only know their name when they mess up a snap.
Special teams will be an crucial component to the Roughnecks success this season and the coaching and front office staff have made sure that this phase is in very capable hands.
Mike Gambill has joined XFLBoard.com as a reporter for the Houston Roughnecks.