When the LSU Tigers take the field next Saturday at AT&T Stadium, Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey will have a number of experienced players, as well as a few new faces, to choose from for his starting lineup.
At punter, the Tigers return 24-year-old sophomore Jamie Keehn, who replaced 2012 starting punter and fellow Australian Brad Wing.
Keehn played in two games last season as the backup, punting 12 times with an average distance of 43.7 yards per punt. He will be the oldest player on the LSU roster when he takes the field against the Horned Frogs on Aug. 31.
With Keehn secured in the starting punter position, the battle to determine who will line up for the point after touchdown this year is in full swing.
Junior James Hairston is the favorite to fill the shoes of 2012 starting kicker Drew Alleman, but redshirt freshmen Trent Dominigue and Colby Delahoussaye will both be vying for the coveted role as the starting kicker for the Tigers.
In addition to his position as place kicker, Dominigue will also serve as the backup punter to Keehn.
With three equally talented options at kicker, whoever earns the starting role will be under immense pressure to return solid performances, as the two guys behind him will be eager to take his place should he slip up.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. expects to shoulder most of the return duties for the Tigers special teams in 2013. Known for his explosive speed and big play capability, Beckham is one of the more exciting returning players to watch in college football.
Beckham returned 35 punts during his sophomore season in 2012, racking up 320 yards and averaging 9.1 yards per return.
Beckham only managed five kickoff returns last season for only 79 yards, but that number is expected to rise. This year, he will not have to compete with the likes of departed senior Michael Ford, who managed 590 yards on 20 returns last season.
Do not be be surprised to see some new faces doing some returning as well. LSU has plenty of true freshman superstars with speed to burn. Defensive backs Tre’Davious White and Jeryl Brazil are two players with incredible potential.
Coach McGaughey will be looking to use new players when he can in order to provide them with some in-game experience.