Tulane Football 2017 Position Preview: Special Teams

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NEW ORLEANS – Tulane football closed out preseason camp with a two-hour workout Friday morning at Yulman Stadium.

With kickoff of the 2017 season just eight days away, the final position to preview is special teams. The 2017 season opens Saturday, Sept. 2 against Grambling State at 7 p.m. at Yulman Stadium.

The Green Wave take off the weekend, before returning Monday for practice and the first day of classes for the fall semester. Practices are closed to the public.

Special Teams
Tulane returns two-year punter Zachary Block, as well as Geron Eatherly at long snapper, but will debut a new face at placekicker in Coby Neenan.

Block (Clermont, Fla.) has played in 20 games, and handled the punts in all 12 contests last year. The junior has 115 career punts for a total of 4,555 yards, and a 39.6 yards/punt average. In 2016, he averaged 40.8 yards per kick, punting 68 times for 2,772 yards. Eatherly (San Antonio, Texas), who was Tulane’s long snapper in all 12 games last year, returns for his sophomore season. Neenan (Dothan, Ala.), a redshirt freshman, will handle the field goal and extra point duties.

“I thought Geron Eatherly had a great true freshman year snapping the football,” head coach Willie Fritz said. “It’s a really important position – you don’t know how important the position is until you get a bad snap. Coby Neenan is doing our extra points and field goals, and Zach Block is handling our punting and our kickoff duties right now. You have to be solid in all of those areas. But you also have to have great coverage, and great blocking in your return game. Every year, a couple of guys step up and do some great things and make a name for themselves in the special teams.”

On the other side of special teams, seniors Sherman Badie (Metairie, La.) and Dontrell Hilliard (Baton Rouge, La.) along with junior Devin Glenn (New Orleans) lead the return game after handling most of the kickoff and punt return duties last season. Redshirt freshman Jacob Robertson Jr. (College Park, Ga.), senior Donnie Lewis Jr. (Baton Rouge) and freshman Stephon Huderson (Petal, Miss.) could also see action returning kicks for the Green Wave. Badie averaged 27.8 yards on 15 kickoff returns, while Glenn averaged 17.4 yards on 11 kick returns. The Wave averaged just 4.1 yards per punt return and 22.2 yards per kickoff return – an area Fritz said is necessary to improve.

“We have to do a better job with our return game. We were very average on punt and kick returns. We have to do a much better job in those areas,” Fritz said. “I thought we did a pretty good job last year in coverage. You play so many young guys, so every year you have to indoctrinate them into how to cover a punt and a kick. A lot of these guys haven’t done it, because they were starting in high school. There’s a lot of teaching involved with that and we’re fortunate we have the preseason to be able to do that.”

Serving as the reserves in the kicking game are sophomore Merek Glover (Long Island, N.Y.), junior Randy Harvey (Destrehan, La.) and Noah Singer (West Palm Beach, Fla.), while Enrique Carrasquero (Metairie, La.) and Neenan back up Block at punter. Senior Aaron Golub (Newton, Mass.) and freshman Austin Streaty (Nashville, Tenn.) provide depth at long snapper.

Season tickets, mini-plans and single game tickets are on sale now, and can be purchased by calling 504-861-WAVE (9283), logging onto TulaneTix.com or visiting the ticket office at the James W. Wilson Jr. Center. Season tickets that includes all six home games during the 2017 season start as low as $200 for a single book and $300 for a family four-pack. Mini plans include the 3rd & Goal package for $75 and the Homecoming & Lagniappe package for $65. Seats are available in locations throughout Yulman Stadium.

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