Season Preview: Special Teams

June Jones names JUCO transfer, who arrived on campus less than two weeks ago, his starting kicker.

A week ago, SMU didn't have a starting kicker.

With veteran Matt Szymanski graduated, coach June Jones said last week that the kicking game was the team's biggest weakness.

"We haven't had a guy who's started and that scares you," Jones said.

Enter Chase Hover – a sophomore transfer student who literally walked onto the SMU campus about a week-and-a-half ago.

Hover spent two years at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas – the school Cam Newton attended before transferring to Auburn.

During his senior year of high school at Plano West, Hover blew up his knee so offers from colleges were nonexistent. He went to Blinn, rehabbed the knee during his freshman year, and then kicked for them last year. He participated in two-a-days at the junior college this summer, but then came to SMU as the news broke that the Mustangs were in need of a kicker.

After just a week of practice, Hover was named the starter, beating out redshirt freshman Mike Loftus, who was a hyped up recruit out of California a couple years ago.

Hover will start out with all kicking duties - field goals, extra points and kickoffs. Matt Stone will punt.

As far as kickoff and punt return duties, look no further than sophomore Kenneth Acker. The cornerback returned kickoffs in five of the last six games of the 2010 season, totaling 13 returns for 315 yards on the year. He will take on both types of return duties this season.

Richard Crawford and Cole Beasley will also be back on punts and Kevin Pope will rotate with Acker on kickoffs.

Last season SMU finished tenth in Conference USA in punt returns, averaging and ugly 4.86 yards per game. The kickoff return game wasn't as bad, but they finished seventh in the conference, averaging 22.1 ypg.

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