Playing special teams an expectation for 'Hoos

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Joe Reed is Virginia’s leading receiver this season. He’s also one of the best kick returners in college football.

Reed enters Saturday’s pivotal ACC Coastal Division matchup against Duke at Scott Stadium as the only player in the country with more than 350 yards receiving and 350 yards on kick returns. He says both roles are equally important for the 4-2 Cavaliers.

"We look at special teams as just as important as offense, defense,” Reed said this week when asked about UVA using starters on special teams.

The Cavaliers’ strategy came into question this week in the aftermath of Bryce Hall’s season-ending ankle injury in last Friday’s 17-9 loss at Miami. An All-American cornerback, Hall was injured while blocking on a UVA punt return.

“It’s just the nature of the sport.  That play could have happened on anything,” Reed said. “So special teams, it's a part of the game that's important to us."

Starters on offense or defense also contributing on various special teams units has been common since Bronco Mendenhall and his coaching staff arrived at UVA three seasons ago. Previous All-American defensive players Micah Kiser and Quin Blanding were both on special teams units on Mendenhall teams, for example.

Junior cornerback Nick Grant said this week that contributing on special teams is an expectation for UVA players.

"It's a matter of progression.  Most players go through special teams to play,” Grant said. “We all start off on special teams, so that's just who we're fabricated on being.  Being on special teams is pretty important to our team.  We want the best players to be available to be playing at all times during the game. That just makes more sense to make more plays."

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