Navy Spring Depth Chart Review: Special Teams

Nick Sloan

The Navy Midshipmen football team recently completed spring drills. GoMids.com will now review each Navy position to project a starter, a backup and a player to watch. Today we'll discuss the top special teams players.

KICKER
Starter: Nick Sloan #6 So.
Backup: Austin Grebe #13 So.

KICKOFF
Starter: Colin Amerau #18 Jr.
Backup: Gavin Jernigan #38 So.

LONG SNAPPER
Starter: Joe Cardona #93 Jr.

HOLDER
Starter: Pablo Beltran #11 Jr.

PUNTER
Starter: Pablo Beltran #11 Jr.
Backup: Gavin Jernigan #38 So.
Third string: Justin Haan #82 Sr.

PUNT RETURNER
Starter: Shawn Lynch #87 Sr.
Backup: Matt Aiken #85 Sr.

KICK RETURNER
Starter: Marcus Thomas #26 Sr.
Backup: Geoffrey Whiteside #29 Jr.

Sophomore Nick Sloan returns as kicker for Navy in 2013. As a plebe in 2012 Sloan won a close battle for the Mid starting kicking spot but then proved to be a very reliable kicker. Sloan made 10 of 15 field goal attempts and all 41 of his PAT. He made his longest kick of the season against rival Air Force (41 yards). Sloan earned all Independent honors for the week of the Air Force game after his made the 41 yards and another kick from 39 yards.

Sloan is backed up by fellow sophomore Austin Grebe. Grebe was both a kicker and quarterback in high school. As a QB he completed 100-of-189 passes for 21 touchdowns. He also connected on three field goals and 35 extra points.

Junior Colin Amerau returns as Navy's kickoff man. Last season Amerau, who has the team's strongest leg, averaged 60.7 yards per kickoff. Nineteen of his 63 kickoffs were touchbacks. Amerau can also kick field goals if needed. Sophomore Gavin Jernigan backs up Amerau as kickoff man. Jernigan has a strong leg and can punt and kick field goals, if called upon.

Junior Joey Cardona is a veteran long snapper for the Mids. He was likely the first ever plebe to start at the position, a responsibility he has had since arriving at the academy. Cardona came to the academy well prepared. He was a regular on the long snapping camp circuit and was listed as one of top snappers at Chris Sailer's National Kicking & Snapping Event in 2009.

Junior Pablo Beltran has been outstanding for Navy as a punter. He averages over 40 yards on 79 punts for his career and averaged a lofty 43 yards a punt in 2012. Beltran, who earned All-East honors, had a 63-yard punt against Notre Dame and averaged 50 yards a punt on three punts against Troy. During the season Beltran had punts travel long distances of 54, 57, 61, 58, 52, 59, and 63 yards. Beltran also served as Navy's holder on kicks. Gavin Jernigan and senior Justin Haan backup Beltran.

Senior Shawn Lynch returns as punt returner for Navy. Last season Lynch had 11 punt returns for 104 yards (9.4 ypr) including a long return of 40 yards versus VMI. Senior Matt Aiken will backup Lynch. Lynch was Navy's punt return man in 2011 and had 10 returns for 50 yards (5.0 ypr). He had a long return of 11 yards.

Senior Marcus Thomas is back as kickoff returner for the Mids. A veteran returner, Thomas has 80 career returns for almost 1,800 yards. Last season the Louisiana native returned 26 kicks for 563 yards for an average of 21.7 yard per return. He earned Honorable mention All-Independent honors for his efforts. In 2011 Thomas returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown against East Carolina. He also had a 36-yard return against rival Army. Junior Geoffrey Whiteside backs up Thomas. Last season the speedster Whiteside had five returns for 104 yards (20.8 ypr).

With all the returning experience Navy's special teams should be a team strength in 2013.

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