The Gophers need to replace All-Big Ten punter Peter Mortell this year, and the leading candidate had seemed to be Ryan Santoso, who already has established himself as one of the conference's top place kickers.

But Monday, coach Tracy Claeys acknowledged it's rare for teams to use the same player as the starting kicker and punter.

"We'll try and find separate duties," Claeys said, on the eve of spring practice. "Because if that was the right way to do it, common, you'd see a lot of people doing it. You just don't see it very much. But if that's the best option we get done then that's what we'll do.

"It's hard on special teams in the spring because you're indoors, and so we'll try to get outdoors as much as we can. And when we do, we'll really concentrate on special teams when we get outside. My initial plan is to have that [kicking and punting] be split responsibilities."