Virginia Tech football: Special teams preview

virginia tech footballThe Virginia Tech football team is known for always being good on special teams, hence the term “Beamer ball”, a term originating from head coach Frank Beamer’s name. VT commonly makes impact plays on special teams, but they will have some new faces in special teams this year, especially the kicker.

Kicker, Kickoff specialist

Virginia Tech is going to have a new kicker this year after having Cody Journell for the past few seasons. The starter is now going to be Michael Branthover. He didn’t kick a ton of field goals last season because Journell was there but now he will.

Branthover was 1 for 2 last year with field goals and they were both in the Sun Bowl. He kicked off 16 times last season averaging 61 yards per kick which is pretty good. He’s going to be a senior this season so he’ll only have a single season to prove himself. This kid isn’t the best field goal kicker but I’m sure with work he can become a good kicker and kickoff specialist.

Punter

The starting punter this year is going to be the same as last year- junior A.J. Hughes. He punted 78 times last year with an average of 44.1 yards per punt which is pretty dang good. He also landed 24 punts inside the 20 and had 24 punts of 50 yards or longer. Those stats are really good and this player has the opportunity to be the best punter in the ACC. Let’s hope he stays healthy next year as he did last season.

Punt returner

Tech’s punt returner this season may have a competition but the starter should be Kyshoen Jarrett, who played special teams and defense last season. He didn’t return many punts last season (5) but he did return two punts against Alabama and totaled 42 yards on those returns, which is pretty good considering it’s against Alabama. That stat right there shows he should be the full-time punt returner next season. There will be other competition though, such as Trey Edmunds and J.C. Coleman, who are both running backs and have played on special teams for the Hokies in the past.

Kick returner

Kick returner is going to be an interesting position this year as nobody really knows who will be back there returning kicks. Two names come to mind: J.C. Coleman and Trey Edmunds, the same two running backs that may see time returning punts.

Both Edmunds and Coleman have elite speed and both played special teams last season. Coleman returned some kicks last year for the Hokies, so he could be the favorite to do it again this year. Those two players will hopefully be returning kicks but don’t rule out Kyshoen Jarrett, who may return both kicks and punts for Tech after returning some punts for the Hokies last year.

[Virginia Tech football: Secondary preview]

Long snapper

This year’s long snapper will once again be Eddie D’antuono. He played every game last season and took over the primary snapping duties too. He logged 119 plays last season and was on 13 special team plays against Alabama. He did recover a fumble on a muffed punt this year and he also made a few tackles. He’s a redshirt sophomore, so he still has a lot of good years ahead for the Hokies but I think it will be a breakout year for him as the long snapper.

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