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Emphasis on Special Teams

Aug. 17, 2006

ATLANTA–A point of emphasis for Georgia Tech this preseason is special teams as the Yellow Jackets return former all-conference placekicker Travis Bell but are breaking in a new punter, holder and long-snapper.

Durant Brooks takes over the punting chores and will also be Bell’s holder, while Bret White is Tech’s new long-snapper. Sophomore Mohamed Yahiaoui give the Jackets a very capable backup at punter and placekicker and could handle kickoff chores.

“I think we’ve had one bad snap, but other than that, everything has been very clean,” said Tech head coach Chan Gailey.

The strong-legged Brooks is a junior from Macon, Ga., who sat out last fall after transferring from Georgia Military College. White is a redshirt sophomore from Marietta, Ga., who has worked behind Tech’s outstanding snappers of the last two years, Gavin Tarquino and Andrew Economos, both of signed NFL free agent contracts.

Gailey said he is confident that Bell is ready to return to the form he showed as a freshman, when hit 15 of 17 field goals and earned second-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference honors. Last fall, he struggled at times and made just 11 of 21 field goals.

Bell, a two-time Academic All-ACC selection, concurs.

“I haven’t felt this good in years,” said Bell. “Just the fact that I’m out here 100 percent healthy makes all the difference. Our special teams coach, Coach Kelly, has done a great job. I’m getting a lot of reps with [long-snapper] Bret White and [holder] Durant Brooks, so we’ve got a really clean operation right now.”

The Tech coaches continue to look at several options on both kickoff returns and punt returns.

Thursday was Tech’s final day of two-a-day practices. The Yellow Jackets are scheduled to practice Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. and then scrimmage Saturday at 3:30 p.m. before taking Sunday off. Fall semester classes begin Monday.

Saturday is also Tech’s annual Fan Day from 10 a.m. to 12 noon in the Callaway Plaza and North conscourse of Bobby Dodd Stadium. Admission is free, and Tech players will be available for photos and autographs.

Tech opens the season by hosting third-ranked Notre Dame on Sept. 2 at 8 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field.

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