Over the next couple of weeks, the Catamount Sports Network and CatamountSports.com will feature positional previews of the 2016 Catamount football team. Each feature will contain the position write-ups from the 2016 Western Carolina media guide, and Catamount Sports Network All-Access video highlights and interviews with the position coach and student-athletes.
2016 Catamount Football Position Preview: the Special Teams
Western Carolina returns the bulk of its specialists for the 2016 season, losing just one player from its 2015 roster in kicker Blake Metcalf who handled the kickoff duties.
WCU's returners include a pair of All-Southern Conference kickers in first team honoree, redshirt sophomore Ian Berryman, and 2015 All-Freshman team selection, Logan Howard. Redshirt junior punter Destry Barnwell and redshirt senior long-snapper Chandler Addertion round out WCU's five returnees.
Berryman ranked second in the SoCon with 58 punts, averaging 43.7 yards per kick a season ago. The Marietta, Ga., product boomed 14 punts of 50 yards or more and downed 22 of his 58 punts inside the opponent 20-yard line. Berryman was also a national finalist for the STATS FCS Freshman of the Year while also garnering second team All-America status from College Sports Madness and was listed on the College Sporting News "Fabulous Fifty" All-America squad as a punter.
Berryman is flanked by Barnwell, who started as punter in 2014 with an average of 39.8 yards per kick on 53 punts. Barnwell has also factored in as the primary holder on most placekicks.
Howard had a very solid freshman season, earning the starting job in preseason. He finished the year ranked seventh in the Southern Conference in scoring with an average of 6.3 points per game -- the fourth-most among all conference kickers. Howard finished his rookie season fourth in the league in field goals made per game, connecting on 12-of-14 field goals for 85.7-percent. He also connected on 94.3-percent of his PAT attempts, 33-of-35.
Addertion returns as the long-snapper on both placekicks and punts, entering his fifth season on roster and fourth as the first-string snapper. The Graham, N.C., product has played in 35 career games with 14 career tackles including a single-season high of seven in 2015. He has asserted himself as a team leader earning the respect of the other specialist and all of his teammates.
Western Carolina added three specialist newcomers in rookie kicker Christian Stewart (Dallas, N.C.) with a pair looking to serve as Addertion's back-up in transfer long-snapper Jackson Wetherby (Raleigh, N.C.) and freshman Charles McDonough (Kernersville, N.C.).
Two returnees -- C.J. Goodman and Jordan Mathis -- handled the punt returning duties last season with an average of 6.5 yards per return. Running back Detrez Newsome and defensive back Tra Hardy recorded most of the kickoff returns, both averaging just over 21 yards per return.
ADDITIONAL SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES:
Western Carolina led the Southern Conference in punting in 2015, averaging 38.2 yards per kick ... WCU's 60 punts were the second-most in the conference ... Punter Ian Berryman led the Southern Conference-- and ranked eighth nationally -- with a 43.7 yard per punt average;
WCU led the Southern Conference in field goal percentage, connecting on 12-of-14 field goals for an 85.7-percent ... Logan Howard ranked fourth in the league in field goals and PAT kicking in 2015;
WCU ranked sixth in kickoff coverage with a seasonal net average of 39.3 yards.
WCU Football 2016 Position-by-Position Preview (tentative schedule):
Offensive Line - WATCH
Defensive Line - WATCH
Tight Ends - WATCH
Linebackers - WATCH
Wide Receivers - WATCH
Special Teams - ABOVE
Running Backs - Aug. 23
Defensive Backs - Aug. 24
Quarterbacks - Aug. 25