Punt return, anyone?

Special Teams Coordinator James Shibest has his mind somewhat set in a lot of areas of special teams, but he's still in search mode and open to anyone who will produce. Read about it inside.

Sophomore Wide Receiver Jesse Grandy is the main guy in the return game for the Rebels.

Write it down, in ink. It's, for all intents and purposes, is the guy and nobody is waiting to make any further decisions.

James Shibest

But Special Teams Coordinator James Shibest is still searching for help.

"Jesse is one of our main wideouts, our main punt return guy and our main kickoff return man. That's a lot of ask," said Shibest. "We have to find him some relief help.

"I think we have some guys who fit the bill in kickoff returns, like Korvic Neat or Jeff Scott and maybe one or two others, but we are still searching for a backup punt return guy. That's where we need the most help."

Shibest has experimented with senior WR Markeith Summers, junior TB Brandon Bolden, freshman TB Jeff Scott, and recently moved WR Derrick Herman, who has been playing tailback.

"We think a couple of those guys have potential, but they've never handled the ball in punt return situations before that I know of," said Shibest. "We think one of them will come to the front to back up Jesse, but I want to see it happen pretty soon."

The kickoff situation, with Andrew Ritter and David Hankins, and the punt situation with returning starter Tyler Campbell seem to be pleasing Shibest.

The main kicking area he wanted to see shored up this fall camp was with the placements.

From all reports, sophomore Bryson Rose is stepping up, especially lately.

"He's hitting the ball consistently. From day one I thought Bryson had a real good chance to be a good player. His first two years, he had a high percentage of field goals in scrimmage situations that were good," explained James. "He just didn't finish spring well and that kind of lingered in our minds. Really, though, when we compiled all the stats for spring, the first 10 days he did very well.

"A lot of that position is confidence and he's got that now. It's our job to keep him confident. Right now, even when he's missing, he's hitting the ball solidly, hitting it good, and not missing by much."

Bryson Rose

Bryson, and all the PKs, are having to work with a new operation - snapper and holder. According to Shibest, that's a work in progress.

"Richie (Contartesi) is the new holder and he's doing a great job. We had three snaps today (Wednesday) that were not easy to handle that he got down. We have young snappers. Will Denny has never done it at the college level," Shibest stated. "It will help when Wesley Phillips (knee injury) gets back.

"He hasn't played much in games either, but he has been with us for three years. Right now, he's snapping the ball on his own, but he can't have contact yet. We are looking forward to getting him back to shore up that position."

Although this is a special teams story, Shibest doubles as the tight ends coach, so it was an opportunity to ask the favorite question of a lot of fans.

Are the Rebels going to throw to the tight end more?

The simple answer from James is "yes, trying to."

"Ferbia is doing a really good job, real good," noted Shibest. "He's not as physical as Gerald Harris, but I think he's better in the passing game because he's more athletic. We're trying to use him more in the passing game. I know Coach (David) Rader comes from offenses that use the tight end a lot in the passing game.

"We're moving the tight ends around with motions and things like that trying to get them in the passing game more. Last spring, Ferbia was the third-leading receiver for the entire spring, so hopefully we'll be able to keep that going. That will help our offense a lot if it works out."


OM Spirit Top Stories