A Look at the 2007 SFA Specialists
Aug. 31, 2007
NACOGDOCHES - The theme of "the heart of the squad returns for the 2007 season" continues with the special teams players. Honorable mention All-SLC kick returner Vincent Pervis headlines the group. A natural running back with great speed, Pervis did a solid job of shortening the field for the 'Jacks in 2006. Pervis turned in one of the better return seasons in school history, averaging 25.4 yards per return. Pervis has the speed and ability to change the field position every time he steps on the gridiron.
"We've placed a big emphasis on the return game due to the new rules, which I think will set up some valuable field position," said SFA head coach J.C. Harper. "Pervis is a threat every time he touches the ball. By the end of last season he was averaging 25 yards per return."
Along with Pervis, SFA returns senior receiver Nick Rhodes to handle punt returns. Rhodes is a sure-handed receiver who finished third in the conference in punt returns in 2006. With a year of experience at the NCAA Division I level under his belt, he should be even stronger in his final season.
"Nick brings a lot of experience to the field," said Harper. "He is a steady guy, who you can send out there and you know he is going to catch the ball. We also have Contrevious Parks who brings some big-time speed to the position. He likes returning punts, and there may be times that we stick both of them back there at the same time."
The 'Jacks also return kicker Cory Long and punter Ryan Gooch for 2007. Long scored 62 points on the season, connecting on all 23 extra-point tries and was 13-of-19 (68 percent) on field goals. Long was almost automatic from 40 yards and in nailing 12-of-14 (86 percent), but struggled from beyond 40 yards connecting on only 1-of-5 tries.
There has been some early competition at kicker with addition of 6-0, 230-pound Jaime Fernandez. A Lufkin, Texas, product, Fernandez scored 247 points during his prep career and showed a knack for burying kickoffs deep in the endzone.
"I've loved the competition between Cory and Jaime," said Harper. "Cory came into camp and has really battled with Jaime, and vice versa. I think it will come down to who does better in game situations. Cory has proven himself to be a little more accurate in close, while Jaime does a great job on the longer kicks. Jaime has also proven that he is better kicking off, so he will be our guy on kickoffs."
Gooch returns for his final season in a purple-and-white uniform and is looking to improve upon a 2006 season that was eerily similar to his sophomore season. As a sophomore, Gooch recorded a 37.2 yards per punt average with a career-long of 63. A model of consistency, Gooch also averaged 37.2 yards per punt with a long 63 yards in 2006.
"I feel comfortable with Ryan out there," said Harper. "He is a very consistent punter. I think he's gone through some tough stretches, but the one thing that people don't notice is how many times he backs up an opponent inside the 10, and saved us some really valuable yardage. At times he's called on to do that when it will hurt his average."