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UVA special teams has to replace Joe Reed: Which you don’t just do

uva footballJoe Reed, the only player in FBS history with 3,000+ kick-return yards and a 28-yard return average, is on his way to the NFL.

UVA special-teams coordinator Ricky Brumfield needs to find his next man up.

“There’s no replacing Joe Reed. Joe Reed is one of a kind, and there probably will never be a Joe Reed at UVA again. The only thing we can do is try to get someone or some couple of people to try to replace the numbers that he was able to put up,” said Brumfield, who is heading into his third season on the staff at UVA.

His units at Virginia have transformed that third of the game. His first season, 2018, saw the ‘Hoos finish seventh nationally in punt-return defense, and saw Reed finish 10th nationally in kick returns.

The 2019 special teams had Reed and the kick-return unit again ranking nationally, and the unit overall was 13th in the ESPN Football Power Index.

Having a guy like Reed returning kicks was a big help, but Brumfield has confidence in speedster Tavares Kelly, a former prep track star in Florida who averaged 22.4 yards per kick return in 2019.

“Tavares Kelly, right now, is a guy that we feel that can do a great job to help lead us to win a conference championship at the kickoff return position,” Brumfield said.

Virginia also returns placekicker Brian Delaney (20-of-24 on field-goal tries in 2019) and punter Nash Griffin (41.9 yards per kick in 2019).

Billy Kemp IV (23 returns, 6.0 yards per return in 2019) slots as the punt returner after handling the bulk of that work for Virginia in 2019.

Story by Chris Graham