BOCA RATON – Henry Bussey wants to put his name in the FAU record book.
The way special teams coach Chris Hurd sees it, Bussey has the make-up to become the first FAU player ever to return a kickoff for a touchdown.
“He is a very electric player,” Hurd said. “We expect to see him do some great things on special teams.”
A junior, Bussey will be given the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of former FAU returner Lucky Whitehead, now with the Dallas Cowboys.
Whitehead’s straight-line speed and explosive change of direction made him a threat to take any ball he touched to the end zone. Bussey, who both stylistically and physically resembles Whitehead, brings similar talents to the field.
Bussey, who came to FAU as a running back before moving to wide receiver, says the skills he developed at both positions translate well into kick returning.
“I use my vision and read my blocks,” he said.
Bussey has shown flashes of being a game-changing special teams performer. His 40-yard return last season was only four yards shy of Cre’von LeBlanc’s 44-yard burst for longest of the season.
Players with the potential Bussey poses inspire in teammates a belief that something special could happen at any moment.
“Guys tend to block a little bit longer, a little bit harder, just a little bit more when they have a dude back there,” Hurd said. “You look at Lucky Whitehead that we had, our guys used to block the heck out of it just because they knew they had a guy back there. This year I think the guys see that we have a couple guys back there that have an opportunity to take the ball the distance that are going to hit the hole, whether it be punt return or kick return, that have a chance of taking it the distance.”
That’s not a common situation at FAU, where historically the special teams haven’t been all that special. Whitehead’s 75-yard burst in 2014 against Old Dominion is the only Owls punt return touchdown in their FBS era.
The Owls spent part of fall camp tying to identify a punt returner to replace the departed LeBlanc and Jenson Stoshak. Wide receiver Tony Thomas is the only Owl on the current roster who returned a punt last season, doing so once who for a loss of a yard.
Owls coaches are closely guarding their return options, but Bussey is in the mix to field punts, as are Jalen Young, Ocie Rose and, recently, James Brunson.
Rose, Marcus Clark and Kamrin Solomon join Bussey as expected members of the kick return team.