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Training Camp Position Preview: Special Teams

August 28, 2015  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Throughout the month of August, LibertyFlames.com will run a series of interviews with each of Liberty's position coaches, getting further insight in each position leading into the 2015 season.

LibertyFlames.com continues its position previews today with a look at the Flames special teams units, two different groups that had varying levels of success in 2014.

Liberty's kicking and punting games were the best in the Big South and one of the tops in the country. Kicker John Lunsford earned All-America honors, while punter Trey Turner was an All-Big South first team honoree.

Lunsford finished the season with the three longest field goals in the country recorded by an FCS kicker (60 yards against No. 20 Richmond, 57 yards against No. 25 Bryant and 56 yards against No. 15 James Madison). He also ranked No. 5 in the country in field goals made per game (1.58) and led the Flames with 100 points scored.

Turner was the top freshman punter in the country, leading the Big South by averaging 41.5 yards per punt. He finished nine of 14 games averaging more than 40 yards per punt and placed 15 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

Liberty's return game did not find the same level of success as the Flames kicker and punter. The Flames finished 2014 ranked No. 108 in the country in both punt returns (4.52 yards per return) and kickoff returns (17.57 yards per return). For the first time since 2005, Liberty finished season without a kickoff or punt return for a touchdown.

The first post August training camp depth chart Head Coach Turner Gill released has some new faces in the kickoff return game, including redshirt freshman Corbin Jackson and true freshman Damian King and Jeremy Peters.

Peters along with senior D.J. Abnar, who did not return a kickoff in 2014, are listed as the starters. Abnar had nine kickoff returns for 170 yards in 2013 (18.9 average).

Zac Parker is listed as the starter at punt returner, followed by Desmond Rice. Parker finished 2014 with seven punt returns for 16 yards (2.3 average), while adding seven kickoff returns for 104 yards (14.9 average).

Sophomore Hunter Winstead returns as Liberty's long snapper. He, along Lunsford and Turner, were each named to the Big South Preseason All-Conference team.

Special Teams Position at a Glance:
(Depth Chart following August Training Camp)

Kicker
John Lunsford (Sr., 6-1, 180)
Avery Echols (So., 5-10, 180)

Punter
Trey Turner (So., 5-11, 195)
John Lunsford (Sr., 6-1, 180)

Long Snapper
Hunter Winstead (So., 6-0, 215)
David King (R-Fr., 6-1, 210)

Holder
Trey Turner (So., 5-11, 195)
Bo Swanson (So., 6-6, 210)

Kickoff Return
D.J. Abnar (Sr., 5-10, 185)
Jeremy Peters (Fr., 5-10, 180)
Corbin Jackson (R-Fr., 6-0, 190)
Damian King (Fr., 5-11, 170)

Punt Return
Zac Parker (Jr., 5-9, 175)
Desmond Rice (R-Sr., 5-8, 195)

Practice Update:
The Flames held their final practice of the week on Friday, working out during the afternoon hours. Head Coach Turner Gill is giving his team the day off on Saturday before they begin their normal in-season, game week practice schedule on Sunday.

LibertyFlames.com's coverage of the Flames' preseason workouts continues tomorrow when the website previews Liberty's tight ends and fullbacks and features an interview with sophomore cornerback Tyrin Holloway