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Tigers Football Insider: Memphis plans to have the best special teams in the country
University of Memphis Special Teams Coordinator Charles Bankins speaks during media availability on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian file)

University of Memphis Special Teams Coordinator Charles Bankins speaks during media availability on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian file)

Welcome back to the Tigers Football Insider, where we bring you the latest news and analysis from The Daily Memphian’s Frank Bonner II, Geoff Calkins and John Martin each week.

Special teams coordinator Charles Bankins is looking to lead the No. 1 special teams unit in the country this season.

That’s an ambitious goal but the Tigers weren’t too far off that mark for much of last season.


“Last year (when) we got through Week 8 we were the No. 2 special teams unit in the country by statistics,” Bankins said, “We’ve got to find a way to finish the drill. We’ve got to find a way to continue that success no matter who’s in the game. And when we’re in the season we’re not only No. 2 but we’re No. 1 in the country and that’s where Memphis is supposed to be on special teams.”

The field-goal kicking should be much improved between a healthy David Kemp and Florida transfer Chris Howard. Joe Doyle is listed on the Ray Guy award watchlist given to the most outstanding punter in the country. He ranked second in the AAC averaging 46 yards per punt ­last season.

Bankins said now that he doesn’t have to split his time between punting and kicking as he did last season, Doyle can compete for national punter of the year.

“That’s where our focus is,” Bankins said. “For him to be the No. 1 punter in the country. We can do that now so he can focus on one thing and he can specialize at it and he can get better and better at it.”

Noah Grant has improved his kicking over the summer and is consistently kicking in the end zone to prevent kickoff returns. Bankins said now they’re just working on the location of the ball when he kicks. The Tigers are also confident that they’ve found a solid long snapper in Colby Cox who transferred from Mississippi State.


“We’ve got a great one in Colby Cox,” Bankins said. “One of the great recruiting tools to get him was the fact that he gets to play Mississippi State the first week of the season. So he’s excited about that. He’s got a target on his back from down there so we’ll see how that goes.”

Bankins isn’t overly concerned about losing Calvin Austin III as a returner. He mentioned the fact that Gabe Rogers is still on the roster and Eastern Kentucky transfer Davion Ross also has strong film as a kick returner.

“We’ll find a returner,” Bankins said. “We’ll be more aggressive coming after punts and we’ll have kick returns because we’re Memphis. That’s what we do.”

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