2019 Southeastern Football Position Report No. 6: Specialists

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Juwan Petit Frere
Southeastern’s Juwan Petit Frere (#5) is one of the nation’s best kick returners (Photo: Randy Bergeron/SLU Athletics).

HAMMOND, La. – With five-time defending Ohio Valley Conference champion and FCS preseason No. 6 Jacksonville State visiting Strawberry Stadium next Thursday night at 7, the Southeastern Louisiana football team will have to be at its best in all three phases, including special teams.

One area that SLU features proven contributors is in the return game. Two-time All-American Juwan Petit-Frere returns for his senior season as one of the nation’s most dynamic kickoff returners, while Devonte Williams and Austin Mitchell give the Lions multiple options at punt returner.

Petit-Frere, Williams and Mitchell are all preseason All-Southland Conference choices. Special teams coordinator Ross Jenkins, who also coaches the tight ends and serves as recruiting coordinator, says the Lions’ success in the return game is a team effort.

“We definitely have some weapons in the return game,” Jenkins commented. “But for us to be successful, we have to execute at the other positions. We have to be fundamentally sound and make the most of the opportunities we’re given.”

Southeastern will feature a lot of new faces in the kicking game. After handling kickoffs for the majority of the 2018 season, Nathan Holliday is expected to take over placekicking duties. The Lions will also have a new punter in Austin Dunlap, while Billy Walch and Jake Rotenberry are competing to replace multi-year starting long snapper Glenn Freeman, who graduated following the 2018 campaign.

“As they’ve adjusted to college football and concentrated on doing their job, we’ve seen our new guys make good progress,” Jenkins said. “All of those guys are capable and as they focus more on their individual techniques and what’s expected of them, we expect they’ll continue to improve.”

Next Thursday’s game against the Gamecocks will also be Faculty/Staff Appreciation Day at Strawberry Stadium. All SLU faculty and staff can receive two complimentary tickets by presenting their Southeastern faculty/staff ID.

To avoid ticket lines, faculty and staff are encouraged to pick up their tickets prior to game day at the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office, which is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and from 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on Friday. On game day, tickets may be picked up at the ticket booths in Friendship Circle or Strawberry Stadium.

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