VIDEO: Dino Waites Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – This is the seventh part in an eight-part series breaking down each of Carson-Newman football's positions. Dino Waites breaks down the Eagles' special teams in this edition.
The Eagles feature an intriguing dichotomy among the specialists. Carson-Newman returns its returners. However, the Eagles will be looking to break in some new legs.
Lonnie Williams (Philadelphia, Pa.) has the most hardware to his name. The senior kickoff return man picked up all-conference accolades this preseason and was named an All-American back in his freshman season in 2014. Last year, he returned 23 kicks for 493 yards, with a season-long 48 yarder coming against Wingate.
"You put a football in Lonnie's hands, you never know what things can happen," Waites said. "I'm excited for him to have a spectacular year. We'll need people to block for him to help spring him."
As a freshman, 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.
Preseason All-SAC running back Antonio Wimbush (Kingsland, Ga.) joins Williams in returning kicks. He was the Eagles' punt return man this past year.
"Wimbo had a few scores called back last year," Waites said. "We have to do our part to make those spectacular plays happen with good coaching and blocking."
The junior returned 18 punts last year for 156 yards, 8.7 yards a pop. He had a long return of 40 yards.
Another modicum of consistency for C-N in special teams has been sophomore longsnapper Dawson Campbell (Travelers' Rest, S.C.).
"We've been blessed to have Dawson now and Dusty Nance before him," Waites said. "He's young, but wants to be a leader. The big thing about him is he has a great heart. As a longsnapper, he really doesn't have to hit anybody, but if I had to go into a battle, he's one of the guys I want to take with me."
Campbell earned preseason All-SAC honors at longsnapper. He didn't have any field goals or PATs blocked in 2016.
"Eli has a great leg and gets the ball up really well," Waites said. "Dick has a strong leg and is pretty consistent, and then Drew Eudy and Hunter Ashwell also come in looking for consistency, strong legs and a high ceiling. You could end up seeing any one of them when it comes down to it."
Carson-Newman's position previews conclude Thursday with the quarterbacks.