VIDEO: Dino Waites Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – – This is the fifth in an eight-part series that will break down what Carson-Newman football brings to the table for the 2015 season position by position. Today's preview features the Eagles' special teams with 2013 AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year Dino Waites.
A bevy of All-Americans dot Carson-Newman's special teams unit. It starts among the Eagles kick returners. Lonnie Williams was named a Don Hansen All-American at the end of 2014 while TraShaun Ward was named a USA College Football preseason All-American in the lead up to the 2015 season. Both have their strengths returning kicks.
"We're thrilled to have those two," Waites said. "For TraShaun it's great to see him grow up as a leader. Lonnie's a special guy with the ball in his hands. The great thing about those guys back there is that you know something great can happen."
Williams led the nation in yards per kickoff return with 34.1 a touch and one was of ten players in the country to bring to kickoffs back for touchdowns. Williams' 34.1 yards per return is the third highest single season mark in Carson-Newman school history behind Kendall James (39.7) and Ques Rumph (34.7). Williams was the fourth Carson-Newman player to return multiple kickoffs for scores in a single season.
He set the Carson-Newman single game record for kickoff return yards against Brevard (9/20) – his first game returning kicks with 215 yards. Meanwhile, no one has returned more kicks for more yards in Carson-Newman history than TraShaun Ward.
Ward has also been one of the hardest luck kick returners. He has six career returns of 50 yards or longer and two on the plus side of 80 yards but has yet to return a kick for a score. In terms of kicking, the Eagles return Ben Ogle, who connected on five of his eight field goal attempts and 46 of his 50 extra points. Finished the year third on the team with 61 points. Hit a season-long 38-yard field goal in the Eagles' regular season finale with Wingate (11/15).
Ogle has been pushed in preseason camp by newcomer and Virginia Tech transfer Carson Wise. Converted 32 of 40 field goals during his high school career with a career-long kick of 55 yards. He is top-five in Virginia high school history made in his career.
"Adding Carson to the mix, he's a great weapon," Waites said. "Those guys are built on competition. It's making both Ben and Carson better. They're kicking 47 yards field goals like they're chip shots."
How the ball gets to the kicker shouldn't be an issue. Dusty Nance has been a modicum of steadiness for the Eagles as a longsnapper. In 320 extra point, field goal and punt snaps, he has yet to have a kick blocked.
Carson-Newman football's position previews resume Monday with C-N's defensive backfield and Aaron Hutsell.