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Position preview: Vest heads solid UT special teams unit

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UT kicker Jameson Vest was first-team All-MAC last season as a junior and made a game-winning kick in the Rockets 54-51 victory over Tulsa.

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The University of Toledo special teams unit has some continuity with a senior kicker in Jameson Vest and a sophomore punter who gained valuable experience as a freshman in Bailey Flint.

Vest, a first-team All-Mid-American Conference performer last season, is one of the top returnees at his position in the conference.

He has 57 career field goals and last season set a UT single-season record with 25 made field goals. Vest led the conference in field goals per game (1.79) and field goal percentage (83.3 percent).

Vest’s signature moment last season came on a 33-yard game-winning field goal as time expired in Toledo’s 54-51 win over Tulsa at the Glass Bowl.

Flint was solid in his first season as the Rockets punter. He had 47 punts for 1,788 yards for an average of 38.0 yards per kick. He recorded a season-long 57-yard punt against Ball State.

UT position previews: QB | RB | WR/TE | OL | DL | LB | DB

“We return experienced players at both placekicker and punter, so that’s a plus,” UT coach Jason Candle said. “Jameson had a great year last year and continues to get better. I love his work ethic and attention to detail. At punter, Bailey Flint is improving at a steady pace. Coming from Australia as a freshman last year was a whole new experience for him in everyday life, let alone football. He will be much better at everything this year.”

In the return game, Danzel McKinley-Lewis and Diontae Johnson provide explosive options on punt and kick returns. Last season, Johnson had a punt and kick return touchdown. Sophomore Desmond Phillips is another option as a return man.

Returning specialists

37 Jameson Vest (5-10, 195, Sr.) Made 25 of 30 field goal attempts last season.

49 Bailey Flint (6-4, 226, So.) Punted 47 times for 1,788 yards (38.0 average) as a freshman

Returning return men

4 Danzel McKinley-Lewis (5-10, 190, Jr.) Returned 20 punts for 162 yards last season.

3 Diontae Johnson (5-11, 185, Jr.) Was first-team All-MAC as punt returner and second-team All-MAC as kick returner.

Who to watch

Jameson Vest. Vest has proven himself as a reliable kicker and should have plenty of field goal opportunities again this season with another high-powered Toledo offense. His consistency has progressed steadily throughout his career, culminating with last season’s all-conference numbers. Having a kicker that can be relied on is a major plus for any college team.

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