A kickoff specialist (KOS) is a seldom-used position in American and Canadian football. Kickoff specialists are members of the special teams. They are responsible for kicking the ball in the kickoff. These players tend to have a strong leg, often capable of making touchbacks, and capable of keeping a ball in the bounds of the field of play but do not have the accuracy or technique required to be a full-time placekicker or punter. Some kickoff specialists later become full-time placekickers, while some are marginal placekickers who are soon out of football.
Due to modern roster restrictions, most NFL teams do not elect to have a kickoff specialist, and instead use their placekickers (or, less often, punters) on kickoffs. The only current NFL kickoff specialists are Jordan Gay of the Buffalo Bills and Brandon McManus of the Denver Broncos as of the end of the 2014 season. The Bills had also had the most recent kickoff specialist before Gay, using John Potter in that capacity for the first six weeks of 2012. Other players who have spent at least some time as kickoff specialist for an NFL team since 2006 include Billy Cundiff, Steven Hauschka, Rhys Lloyd, David Buehler, and Todd Carter. As of the end of the 2014 NFL season, punters Thomas Morstead, Matt Bosher, Sam Martin, Pat McAfee, and Michael Koenen because their teammates, placekickers Shayne Graham, Matt Bryant, Matt Prater, Adam Vinatieri, and Patrick Murray, have weaker legs, handle kickoffs in addition to their normal punting duties, but do not do the traditional placekicker duties of kicking field goals and extra points. In high school football and most other professional leagues, such as the Canadian Football League and Arena Football League, one kicker handles all three kicking positions. Even college football teams usually do not utilize kickoff specialists, despite the much larger rosters at that level; however, if an underclassman has a stronger leg than the upperclassman kicker, but is not yet ready to assume placekicker or punter duties, they will handle kickoff a while being the primary backup to the other positions, much like Gay does for the Bills.
|Positions in American football and Canadian football|
|Linemen||Guard, Tackle, Center||Linemen||Tackle, End, Nose tackle||Kicking players||Placekicker, Punter, Kickoff specialist|
|Quarterback||Linebackers||Snapping||Long snapper, Holder|
|Backs||Halfback (Tailback), Fullback, H-back||Backs||Cornerback, Safety, Halfback||Returning||Punt returner, Kick returner|
|Receivers||Wide receiver, Tight end, Slotback||Nickelback, Dimeback||Tackling||Gunner, Upback|
|Formations (List) — Nomenclature|