2012 football position by position: kick/punt returners
As we’re just weeks away from the start of the football season, it’s time to take a detailed position-by-position look at the 2012 EMU football team. This is our time to refresh our memory about returning players, and learn a little about the new faces.
Lost: Corey Welch (wide receiver), Nate Paopao (linebacker).
Corey Welch accounted for 15 of EMU’s 52 kickoff returns in 2011 — more than any other player — averaging 20.3 yards per return.
Presumptive starters: Dominique Sherrer (kickoffs), senior; Darius Scott (kickoffs), sophomore; Demarius Reed (punts), sophomore; Marlon Pollard (punts), junior.
Dominique Sherrer is undeniably the top kickoff returner. He only handled 10 returns last year, fewer than either Welch or Scott, but because of injuries he only played 6 games, and he was clearly their top option when you look at it on a returns per game basis. He was also clearly their top option when you look at yards per return: he averaged 22.3 yards per return, well above the team average of 18.6 yards.
The other kickoff return men of note last year were Donald Scott and Ryan Brumfield, who returned 11 and 9 kickoffs respectively. Unfortunately, their returns were not very good, averaging less than 18 yards per return between them and dragging down that team average.
Reed and Pollard combined for 28 of 30 punt returns in 2011. While Pollard struggled at times, averaging just 5.3 yards per return, Reed averaged 12.85 yards per return, second in the MAC (behind Jordan White of Western Michigan), twelfth nationally, and the only freshman in the top 25 returners. Since I’m just looking at stats—I’m not going to go back and look at game film at this point!—I don’t know why Pollard’s average was so low (maybe there’s a legitimate reason, such as if he lined up nearer the punts and Reed lined up farther), but even taken all together, EMU’s punt returns were comfortably above average.
Depth: Hard to predict. As I mentioned, Reed and Pollard combined for nearly all the punt returns in 2011, and barring an injury that will probably continue. It seems reasonably likely that English may try out any of the speedier young defensive backs, running backs, or wide receivers as kickoff returners, and entirely possible that one of them might join Sherrer as primary kickoff return men, relegating Scott and Brumfield to a back-up role.
Read what Hustle Belt has to say about all the MAC kick/punt returners, where they rate EMU 5/13.