DENTON, Texas (4/5/09) Today MeanGreenSports.com continues a position-by-position breakdown of the North Texas football team in the spring and where it’s headed in the fall. Along the way we welcome your questions about each position and we answer them the following day. Yesterday it was the cornerbacks, today we look at the special forces, the North Texas special teams unit. We also have special teams Coach Gandy in our "He said it" segment for your listening pleasure. E-mail Q&A are at the bottom. Click Here To Submit Questions
There will be a new look special teams unit that the Mean Green unveil in the 2009 season. Familiar faces such as Jeremy Knott, DaWaylon Cook, John Shorter, and Royce Hill will be part of the unit, but additionally the squad will be led by new special teams coach Shelton Gandy.
Coach Gandy has been with North Texas for three seasons and has sparked a new enthusiasm that has spread throughout his unit during the spring and heading into the season. Gandy is no stranger to special teams either having coached it throughout his storied career.
Jeremy Knott returns for his senior season after giving North Texas the added boost it needed in the kicking game. Perhaps the strongest leg in the league, Knott hit four field goals of 40 yards or more last season and over 70 percent of his kicks for the year. The punting duties will be the biggest battled of the offseason as departed is longtime punter Truman Spencer.
One of the best in recent memory, Spencer will be tough to replace. The leading candidate heading into the season is Trent Deans. His improvement has been marked since arriving at North Texas as spent last season as the understudy to Spencer. Freshman Will Atterberry averaged over 42 yards a kick in high school and brings a talented leg to the table in 2009.
The biggest area of improvement that Gandy will be looking for is the punt and kick return units. A stable of talent is at his disposal and experience for once won’t be an issue. Returning punts last season was an adventure for North Texas but Hill has cemented himself as the punt returner this spring and shown the confidence to make that spot a dangerous one.
The kick return squad had a trio of players, Cook, Shorter, and Hill who did most of the heavy lifting last season. Hill had the longest return of the year at 51 yards but there were several big returns.
Coach Dodge and Gandy both feel the newcomers will have an immediate impact as well with Jamel Jackson, Jamaal Jackson, and Ira Smith all getting a chance to bolster the return game.