Alonzo Hampton working to improve return game

Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire

Florida State struggled mightily over the last three years when it came to returning punts. The Seminoles averaged just 3.74 yards per return in 2015, 7.41 in 2016, and 8.23 yards last season.

Prior to the 2015-17 stretch, FSU had averaged 10+ yards per punt return in five of the previous six seasons. Those numbers were accumulated thanks to playmakers like Greg Reid, Rashad Greene, and Kermit Whitfield. Speedy and shifty players who also had exceptional vision to find the right holes.

The `Noles seemingly have that type of talent lining up back deep in 2018. They’re looking to new specials teams coordinator, Alonzo Hampton, to turn them around quickly.

Nyqwan Murray, Levonta Taylor, Keith Gavin, Tre’Shaun Harrison, Isaiah Bolden, and Keyshawn Helton were spotted returning punts during Thursday’s practice. Hampton had them doing a few unique drills to improve their catching ability and vision with the ball in the air.

First, Hampton had each of the returners hold a football in one hand and they had to catch the punt with their remaining hand. This drill will hopefully eliminate some of the punts we’ve seen the Seminoles muff in recent years.

Hampton also ran another drill where the returners started on their backs. Once the ball was kicked they had to jump up and find it in the air. FSU hasn’t had a coach to strictly focus on the special team’s units over the last few seasons.

Florida State has all of the talent and speed in the world at returner. It’ll be interesting to see how they perform with a coach whose main focus is their success on special teams.

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