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Opponent Preview: LSU’s Special Teams

Game day is in just four days!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 13 CFP National Championship - LSU v Clemson Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Ahead of the season opener against No. 6 LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Saturday, we’ll be taking a look at the Tigers in all three levels of football — offense, defense and special teams. Today, we’ll take a look at the special teams of the defending national champion Tigers.

Handling the kicking duties will be sophomore Cade York. York, a native of McKinney, Texas, made 89-of-93 extra points and 21-of-27 field goals as a freshman. He was also 4-of-5 from 50 yards and a perfect 12-of-12 between 20 and 40 yards.

Also back for LSU is junior kickoff specialist Avery Atkins. Atkins, from Auburn, Alabama, ranked third nationally in touchbacks in 2019. Of his 131 kickoffs, 110 resulted in touchbacks.

Punting for the Purple and Gold will be senior Zach Von Rosenberg. The Zachary, Louisiana, native is a former minor league baseball prospect who turns 30 on Sept. 24. He originally committed to play baseball at LSU before being selected in the sixth round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Last year, Von Rosenberg averaged 42 yards a punt and saw 21 of his 47 punts be downed inside the 20-yard line. Opponents only returned nine punts last year. He also serves as LSU’s holder for placekicks.

At long snapper will be freshman Quentin Skinner. Buford High School in Buford, Georgia, has produced LSU’s last three long snappers — brothers Reid Ferguson (currently with the Buffalo Bills) and Blake Ferguson (currently with the Miami Dolphins) and now Skinner. He appeared in one game in 2019, which was a 65-14 win over Northwestern State. He spent the year training alongside Blake Ferguson.

The main kick returners for the Tigers are sophomore running back John Emery Jr. and sophomore wide receiver Trey Palmer. Emery, a former five-star running back prospect out of Destrehan, Louisiana, emerged as the top returner because of his size, speed and explosiveness. He rushed 39 times for 188 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman. As for Palmer, a sophomore wide receiver from Kentwood, Louisiana, he returned three punts for 65 yards and one score a year ago. He also had an 11-yard kickoff return.

Sophomore cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. is in line to return punts for the Tigers in 2020. In 17 return attempts in 2019, Stingley, a Baton Rouge native, averaged 9.6 yards per return for a total of 163 yards.