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South Carolina Gamecocks positional previews: Special teams

#FREISMAN and his friends return to the fold as our position by position preview takes us to the guys who will be kicking (and returning) the ball, and keeping the other team from doing it effectively.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Who's gone?

Tyler Hull and Patrick Fish have graduated, so no more "Fish-Fry". Also, snappers Ryland Culbertson and Coleman Harley. Zach Cimaglia has transferred to Adams State in Colorado.

Who's back?

#FREISMAN (Elliott Fry) is back. That's all you need to know. Oh, and Landon Ard and Drew Williams, too.

Who's new?

Someone has to replace Tyler Hull as the punter, and it looks like that someone is former FAU punter Sean Kelly, who is a junior college transfer that walked on in January. Freshmen kickers/punters Michael Almond and Joseph Charlton join too, along with long snappers Logan Crane and Jakob Huetchker.

Key stat(s): In 2014, the Gamecocks gave up 22.50 yards per kick return, 98th in FBS, and averaged 19.13 yards a return themselves, the 21st worst output in the country. They did rank around the halfway mark in punt yardage and allowed just under seven yards given up in punt returns.

The scoop: #FREISMAN went 18 of 25 last year from field goal range and a perfect 51 of 51 on point-afters, and he returns for his junior season, so that part of the roster won't change. As far as who's returning punts, that falls on Pharoh Cooper and Chris Lammons this year. Shon Carson will be returning kicks once more, and we'll also get a look at what redshirt freshman Deebo Samuel can do on special teams as well. The main question is how Kelly will fare as he takes the punting reins from the departed Hull.

Flipping things around, one of the main concerns for this team is shoring things up in the kick return defense. (The name "Darrius Sims" haunted this group's dreams for weeks after he brought back two kicks against them, but thankfully it was the only time an opponent returned a kickoff for a touchdown all year.) Conventional wisdom says that things can't be worse than they were last season, and hopefully for Carolina, that aspect of their game improves.