More often than not, the most overlooked unit on any football team is almost always the special teams group.
Excellent special teams play, like kicking an extra point or snapping a ball to the punter, is just as important to winning as every other offensive and defensive play.
For the four former special teams players and coach selected to The Chanticleer’s All-JSU FCS team, the emphasis they put for success both on and off the field gave them their moments of fame at Burgess Snow Field.
“Seeing where the team was when I was a player, just a great tradition and a great program, morphing into that national name was huge for me,” former JSU kicker Gavin Hallford said. “Till this day you will still see people, who support JSU, remember those games that you were a part of, so it was a great experience for me.”
“We understood that we were all that we got, and that became our mindset,” Hallford said. “You don’t see us on ESPN every Saturday, but we saw each other in the weight room all summer, we saw each other on the field all preseason, so that built that bond as a team.”
The closeness that those teams shared was impactful to not just the program, but the community as well.
“We were not selling out a hundred thousand seat stadiums, but we had a great fan base that was there for us and bought into the same mindset that we had as a team,” Hallford said. “When I was a player there, some of the guys that I worked out with I still talk to till this day.”
The bonds that those teams established, between both players and coaches, helped create a strong familiar culture at JSU that still resonates to this day.
“Jacksonville is just a small town so you get to know a whole lot of people, and it is such a close tight-knit community at that,” former JSU long snapper Josh Brady said. “It was such a unique experience that I am grateful for to this day, because I don’t think that anybody can say they had the same experience for any other program.”
During Brady's time at JSU, the special teams units, along with the offense and defense, pushed each other because of the level of talent among players.
“I think we were so successful at the FCS level because we had great depth at almost every position,” Brady said. “We had solid athletes and great people all the way to third stringers, on offense, defense, and special teams.”
During a four year stretch in the mid-2010s the Gamecocks football team went 43-8., with that span of time highlighted by multiple FCS playoff appearances, and an appearance in the 2015 FCS National Championship.
“JSU had a great small town feel, but also such a big time program within it that I was lucky enough to be a part of,” Brady said. “The community was always behind us on every team, so it was just a fantastic time that I wouldn’t trade the world for.”