Special Teams Update with Coach Amos Jones

Mississippi State's special teams return most of the guys who started last year, including kicker Keith Andrews, part-time starter Brooks Crabtree, part-time punt and kickoff returner Jonathan Lowe, and snapper Russell Cook. Special Teams coach Amos Jones talked about each of those players and their backups.

Junior kicker Keith Andrews, who was 6-of-10 in field goal attempts last season, continues to hold his first-team status, while a couple of redshirt freshmen are battling for the second-team spot.

"Right now, Keith Andrews is kicking the ball well," said Jones. "Unfortunately, he will miss Saturday's scrimmage due to taking the medicine exam boards. But that will give (redshirt freshmen) Adam Carlson and Andrew Gambrell an opportunity to get some reps. Those three are battling for the job, but Keith is obviously still in the lead."

As for punters, Crabtree continues to lead for that job, but true freshman Blake McAdams is coming on strong in practice.

"From a punting standpoint, Brooks Crabtree is still hanging in there, but Blake McAdams is pressuring him hard," said Jones. "And Adam Carlson is also punting. So, I feel pretty good about that."

Jones has liked what he has seen of the freshman, but feels he may be getting a little leg weary after shuffling between playing safety, a position that he has since given up, and punter.

"He's got a real good leg and has good hang time," said Jones of the highly rated McAdams. "But he may be kicking too many balls right now and, maybe, getting a little leg weary. Later in camp, like a quarterback, (kickers) get leg weary."

This year's starting snapper looks to be the same as last year, Russell Cook. He will be backed up by senior Britt Cross. Cross, a veteran walk-on, was recently awarded a scholarship by Coach Croom.

"Russell Cook is the snapper and Britt Cross is backing him up," said Jones.

Last year's starting punt returner, Jonathan Lowe, remains in the lead over highly touted freshman Derek Pegues. Pegues has done double duty as a punt returner and a gunner on the punting team.

"J-Lowe (Jonathan Lowe) is still No. 1," said Jones. "Derek Pegues has shown the ability to catch the ball. He works both sides of the ball (as a punter returner and gunner). Derek is a guy that we are going to use back there, as well as J-Lowe."

The kickoff return duties will get a new look this season with three new guys practicing at that position.

"Derek Ambrose and probably (redshirt freshmen) DeMarcus Johnson and Brandon Thornton will be used for kick returns," Jones said. "We've also used (redshirt freshman walk-on) Dennis Little a little. He catches the ball well. We've tried to find a place for a guy like that to play because he has some speed."

Overall, it appears the Mississippi State special teams, with so many starters returning, is once again in solid hands and should be a strength for this year's squad.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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