ROLLA, Mo. -- Most of the key special teams personnel for Missouri S&T is still intact from the 2017 season, with the return of a record-setting placekicker and two of the most dangerous return men in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
Ben Styron (Harrisonville, MO/Harrisonville) established a new S&T mark last season for points scored by a placekicker with 86, as he made 47-of-49 extra point attempts and connected on a school record-tying 13 field goals, including nine in a row in one stretch.
"I think Ben has proven that he is one of the top placekickers in the GLVC," Fenwick said. "He has consistently proven that we can trust him to put the ball through the uprights and his range really helps our offense because we can get more scoring opportunities as a result."
The Miners also have two of the top kick returners in the GLVC back in Roderick Chapman (Los Angeles, CA/Jefferson) and Braxton Graham (Seneca, MO/Seneca). Chapman averaged 18.4 yards per punt return last season – he was two returns short of qualifying for the NCAA Division II statistics in that category as only three players in the nation averaged more – and also ran back kickoffs at an average of 23.6 per runback with a touchdown.
Graham, the GLVC's special teams player of the year in 2016, averaged 21.5 yards per kickoff return and also ran back punts until suffering an injury midway through the season that kept him out of the lineup for most of the season's second half.
"I believe that we have one of the more talented groups of kick returners in the country," Fenwick said. "Roderick and Braxton, from past performance, have shown the ability to create explosive plays in the return game and we have others that could certainly match them in that regard.
The Miners have additional options in the return game in Josh Brown (Gainesville, FL/North Marion HS), who handled some of the kickoff return duties and averaged close to 23 yards per return and Justin Vaughn (Houston, TX/George Bush), who spent time on both the kickoff and punt return units in his first season at S&T. Redshirt Aundray Henley (Miami, FL/Flanagan) is also expected to compete for a role in the return game as well.
In addition, the Miners also bring back two additional special team performers in Zach Glaess (Queen Creek, AZ/Queen Creek) and Jonathan Banowetz (O'Fallon, MO/Fort Zumwalt North), who figure to compete for the open punting job due to the graduation of Nolan Mannino (Waterloo, IL/Waterloo). Glaess handled most of the kickoff duties for S&T last season, while Banowetz was the team's placekick holder and backup punter last fall.
"We expect Jonathan to take hold of the punting position and continue to improve in that area," Fenwick said.
Bo Blomenkamp (Columbia, MO/Rock Bridge) returns as the team's long snapper after handling that role in his freshman season.