With the regular season in the rear view mirror, we take a look this week at five positions MSU must beef up for the 2013 campaign. Today we conclude with punt returner.
We wrap up this little series with a key special teams unit. MSU is losing both of its punt returners, Johnthan Banks and Chad Bumphis. They’ve split the duties the last two seasons and did adequate jobs. Both players returned a punt for touchdown last season; this season, Banks is averaging 8.5 yards on 12 returns with a long of 22 yards, while Bumphis is averaging 6.2 on six returns with a long of 16.
MSU ranks 11th in the SEC with a 7.1-yard punt return average. That needs to improve, and perhaps fresh blood will give the return game a boost. Let’s look at a couple of possible candidates.
• Brandon Holloway, Fr.: He’s small but very fast, and we’ve been reminded of that during bowl practices. Earlier today, Holloway took a punt and dashed all the way to the end zone. He seems to be in the mold of a quality SEC punt returner, and until he’s able to get into the wide receiver rotation, this could be a very good role for him.
• Jameon Lewis, So.: We saw his explosive ability against Ole Miss, when he took a kickoff return 100 yards for a touchdown. He has limited punt return experience – two returns for 11 yards this season, three for 10 yards last season. Lewis has made some questionable decisions in the return game the past two years, and he lost a fumble on what was otherwise a very good kickoff return earlier this season.
There could be other candidates, but it’s a bit early to really know who those guys would be. I could see Josh Robinson back there; he’s gotten some work on kickoff returns. Right now, Holloway and Lewis make the most sense.