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2014 Training Camp Preview: Special Teams
During the month of August, LibertyFlames.com will preview each position on Liberty's football roster before the Flames open the season on the road at North Carolina on Aug. 30.
LibertyFlames.com continues its series today by looking at the Flames' special teams units, a group that will be led by a series of fresh faces to the program.
John Lunsford, a 2012 All-Big South second team honoree, ranked second on Liberty's roster last year in scoring (77). He was a perfect 53-of-53 on point after attempts, while he was 8-of-19 on field goal attempts. The rising junior will miss the first two games of 2014 due to NCAA academic eligibility issues.
Freshman Avery Echols and senior Shane Blanchard battled for the Flames' starting role at kicker during training camp. When head coach Turner Gill released his post training camp depth chart, Echols was given the nod and is poised to get the start at next Saturday's season opener at North Carolina.
Two-year starting punter Grant Bowden graduated last year, leaving his former position open as well coming into the season. Trey Turner was with the program last year but redshirted.
Along Bowden, All-America long snapper Richard Wright graduated last year. His understudy during the 2014 season Hunter Winstead is slated to start at the position for the Flames.
Gill's post training camp depth chart also showed significant younger talent at the return position. The only seasoned player is Gabe Henderson, who is slated to start along with Zac Parker on kickoff returns.
Henderson is a senior, but he has only returned one punt in his career. Parker is a sophomore who was at Liberty in 2014, but was not with the football program. Alpha Jalloh, a transfer from Stevenson University, and redshirt freshman Joshua Smith are slated to back up Henderson and Parker.
Parker is also scheduled to be Liberty's starting punt returner, backed up by redshirt freshman Dakota Kelly. Kelly is the younger brother of former Flames' wide receiver Pat Kelly, who finished his career ranked third in school history in receptions (162) and fifth in receiving yards (2,107).
LibertyFlames.com will continue its position previews on Sunday when the website takes a look at Liberty's overall defense.
K – Avery Echols, Fr., 5-10, 180
P – Trey Turner, R-Fr., 5-11, 195
H – Javon Shashaty, So., 6-0, 175
LS – Hunter Winstead, R-Fr., 6-0, 215
KR – Gabe Henderson, Sr., 5-11, 195 and Zac Parker, So., 5-9, 175
PR – Zac Parker, So., 5-9, 175
K – Shane Blanchard, Sr., 5-10, 185 and John Lunsford, Jr., 6-1, 180
P – Avery Echols, Fr., 5-10, 180
LS – Lucas Holder, R-Fr., 6-4, 280 or Will Johnson, So., 6-6, 255
KR – Alpha Jalloh, So., 6-1, 195 and Joshua Smith, R-Fr., 5-6, 175
PR – Dakota Kelly, R-Fr., 5-11, 170