Position Series: Special teams

Cardinal Authority is running a position series as a preseason football feature to help you get familiar with the entire University of Louisville roster. Our latest installment provides a look at the Cardinals special teams.

OVERVIEW

University of Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino said in the preseason that he would spend more time on special teams this season, noting the Cardinals "had to improve in every aspect."

The Cardinals have done that on special teams, according to coordinator Tony Grantham.

"We feel really good about where we are at," Grantham said. "I think we are ahead of where we were at this point last year. We are excited the athletic ability we will be able to put on the field.

"We feel really solid about what we have on special teams."

It all starts with senior kicker John Wallace, expected to be one of the top placekickers in the country. He made 15 of 19 field goals last season and is 51 of 64 for his career at U of L.

Wallace has also hit 140 of 146 extra points and is likely to handle kickoff duties again.

"He's a guy who is proven and there's nothing like a guy who has the experience in that position," Grantham said. "He hasn't missed a beat and works really hard on his craft."

Senior Joshua Appleby has "as strong of a leg as anybody I have been around," according to Grantham and he will be the Cardinals' punter in replacing the graduated Ryan Johnson.

Appleby only punted six times last season but averaged a career-best 42.3 yards.

Junior Colin Holba will be the long snapper after Grant Donovan, who didn't have a bad snap in four years, graduated while the return game will be manned by several different faces.

Jaire Alexander, Trumaine Washington, Corvin Lamb, Brandon Radcliff, James Quick, JaQuay Savage, Jamari Staples, Devontre Parnell and several others were spotted back returning kicks and punts during open practices.

"It's probably going to be multiple guys," Grantham said. "We've given guys a lot of opportunities. We have some guys back there that we think can make some explosive plays for us."

BREAKTHROUGH PLAYER

Joshua Appleby, Senior

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Appleby has a strong leg and has "really turned the corner," according to Grantham. He said Appleby could be a "major weapon for us in flipping the field position."

"He can be a difference-maker for us," Grantham said. "Josh just has to go do it in the game now. He's been a little inconsistent before. But I think he's going to be fine."

Appleby came to U of L with a lot of hype from the previous staff about his leg and now he can prove it.

SLEEPER

Devontre Parnell, Junior

The 5-foot-11, 184-pound Parnell might not get a ton reps as a return guy but if he does there's so much speed that he could make a lot of things happen on kickoffs.

Parnell is one of the fastest guys on the field and showed explosiveness during open practices.

EXTRA POINTS

**Mason King, a walk-on from St. Xavier High School, has shown a lot of promise in camp and will be the back up punter.

**Jon Brown, a senior, will be listed as the backup kicker, while Collins High School freshman Blanton Creque is a walk-on and is also in the mix as a kicker.


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