MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - By his estimation, Joe DeForest is one of only a dozen FBS college football assistant coaches across the country with his job description.
He's a full-time special-teams coach.
He didn't arrive in Morgantown that way, of course.
His first season was spent as West Virginia's defensive coordinator, an experiment of sorts that, to put it delicately, didn't quite go as planned. His first foray into coordinating a defense - he'd been a position coach during a long stay at Oklahoma State - may or may not have been his last, but at least for now he's been relieved of those responsibilities.
It is the hope, though, of Dana Holgorsen, the man who hired him, that he can still get his money's worth - or at least a return on the $500,000 DeForest is being paid - because regardless of what DeForest did or didn't do with WVU's defense, he is still recognized as a special-teams guru. He was also in charge of that at Oklahoma State and performed to rave reviews.
But on a full-time basis? Well, why not, both Holgorsen and DeForest argue?
"Some head coaches just don't [want to do] that,'' DeForest said. "And that's their choice.
"But most of the time you do special-teams periods first and then you send them to another field with a bag of balls and say, 'Go kick.' Well, would you do that with your corners or your receivers?''
In truth, the whole notion of special teams has morphed over the years. It hasn't been widespread and obvious like spread offenses or flexing defenses, but things have changed. There was a time when kickers and punters were almost universally walk-ons. Teams might spend a scholarship on one or the other, but seldom both.
In just the past year West Virginia has spent scholarships not only on kickers and punters, but long-snappers as well. Can holders be far behind?
Well, probably. But the point is that the jobs are too important to treat as secondary.
"I've always thought, 'What makes a kicker any less important than a right guard?''' DeForest said. "He puts points on the board, he flips field position. And what I'm excited about is I get to work with them all day.
"Not many people in the country have that luxury. There are about 12 of us in the country that do it full time. That's good for us as a program.''
So what are DeForest's tasks as West Virginia heads into its second week of fall camp? Well, finding a kicker to replace four-year starter Tyler Bitancurt is a good place to start. Of course, the fact that redshirt freshman Josh Lambert was the only place-kicker on the roster when camp opened suggests that there's really not much of a search going on.
"Yeah, but he's never kicked in a game before,'' DeForest said. "I think that says it all.''