2012 Preview: Special Teams Key For TCU

BOISE, ID - NOVEMBER 12: Brandon Carter #3 of the TCU Horned Frogs makes a catch for a touchdown against the Boise State Broncos at Bronco Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)

GoFrogs.com concludes its preview of the 2012 TCU football team with a look at the special teams.

TCU produced the first-team all-conference return specialist all seven years it was in the Mountain West and the league's Special Teams Player of the Year the last three seasons.

Skye Dawson (5-9, 183, Sr.), a two-time track and field conference champion and All-American in the 4x100 relay, will share the kickoff return duties with Waymon James (5-8, 203, Jr.) and Josh Boyce (6-0, 203, Jr.).

James returned a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown against Portland State last season and had a 27.8 season average. Dawson had a long return of 47 yards on four attempts.

Dawson and Brandon Carter (5-11, 161, So.) will handle punt returns. In addition to an outstanding freshman season at wide receiver, Carter averaged a team-best 13.7 yards on punt returns last year. He appears on the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, recognizing the nation's most versatile player.

True freshman Deante' Gray (5-10, 180, Fr.) also figures into the mix on punt returns. He averaged 16.6 yards per rush, 22.2 yards on punt returns and 30.2 yards on kickoff returns for Westside High School in Houston last fall.

Fellow newcomers Jaden Oberkrom (6-3, 182, Fr.) and Ethan Perry (6-4, 230, Fr.) are the projected starters at placekicker and punter, respectively.

Oberkrom recorded 65 touchbacks on 120 kickoffs his final two seasons at Arlington Martin High School. He also connected on a 60-yard field goal.

Perry, from Spring Branch, Texas, was ranked by Rivals.com last year as the No. 1 punter/kicker in Texas and No. 6 in the nation. He was selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Ryan DeNucci (5-10, 190, So.) lettered in a kickoff specialist role last season and recorded a pair of touchbacks.

Veteran Cale Patterson (5-11, 185, Sr.) will push Perry at punter and is one of 10 current Horned Frogs with his TCU degree already in hand.

Daniel Shelley (6-1, 228, Sr.) will be in his third season as TCU's deep snapper.

BY THE NUMBERS:

1 - Horned Frog assistant coaches in the TCU Lettermen's Association Hall of Fame (tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Dan Sharp)

2 - Current streak of deep snappers (Jared Retkofsky, Pittsburgh Steelers; Clint Gresham, Seattle Seahawks) to graduate from TCU and reach the NFL

3 - Kickoffs returned for touchdowns by TCU last season (Greg McCoy 2, Waymon James 1)

7 - Consecutive years TCU had the first-team all-conference return specialist in the Mountain West, representing each season it was in the league

113 - Games since TCU allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown, a streak that currently ranks as the third-longest in the nation

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