The Panthers special teams continue to be under the watchful eye of Danny Crossman, whose unit ranked among the best in the NFL in 2008. Kicker John Kasay and punter Jason Baker form the nucleus of a unit that has traditionally ranked among the best in the League.
In 2008, Crossman added kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd to the unit. Lloyd reached the end zone on 52-of-88 kickoffs and led the NFL with 30 touchbacks, the most since the introduction of the K-Ball in 1999. As a result, Carolina ranked third in the League in opponents average starting position following kickoffs.
Already excellent, Kasay has only improved and Baker set team records for net punting average in consecutive seasons in 2005 and 2006 under Crossman. Last year, Kasay converted 90.3 percent of his field goal attempts, the second-highest percentage in team history, and Baker placed 30 punts inside the 20, the second-highest total of his career.
In his first season as the Panthers head special teams coach in 2005, Crossman nurtured the unit to one of its best seasons. Carolina ranked ninth in the comprehensive Dallas Morning News ratings on the strength of a second-place finish in punt coverage and a seventh-place finish in kickoff coverage. That success came despite the loss of a Pro Bowl punter, but Crossman tutored newcomer Baker to an NFC-leading net punting average of 38.9 yards.
Crossman was named special teams coach in 2005 after serving as an assistant in the professional and college ranks. His 2003 NFL debut proved to be a resounding success as the NFC Champion's special teams units finished second in the ratings by the Dallas Morning News. Playing an integral role in that success, Crossman assisted with both the special teams units and strength and conditioning program.
He came to the Panthers from Michigan State, where he served in 2002 as the Spartans linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. Prior to working at Michigan State, Crossman coached three seasons at Georgia Tech from 1999-01, serving as the special teams coordinator and defensive ends coach his first two years before tutoring the defensive backs and contributing as special teams coordinator in 2001. In 1999 and 2001, the Yellow Jackets ranked among the NCAA leaders in kickoff return average, net punting average and punt return average, and his special teams units led the ACC in kickoff return average and punt return average in 2000.
Crossman entered coaching at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1993, where he coached the defensive backs and special teams. He moved to Western Kentucky from 1994-96, handling special teams and the secondary for two seasons and the outside linebackers in 1996. Crossman then joined Central Florida as the defensive backfield and special teams coach from 1997-98.
Playing and Personal
Crossman earned three letters at the University of Pittsburgh after transferring from Kansas following his freshman season. He was named team MVP and earned second-team All-America honors as a senior in 1989, recording 62 tackles and one interception from his strong safety position. At Kansas, Crossman made eight starts at defensive back and posted 48 tackles and one interception to garner freshman All-America honors in 1985.
He spent parts of two seasons in the NFL with Washington in 1990 and Detroit in 1991. Crossman played two years from 1991-92 with the London Monarchs of the World League of American Football. He intercepted three passes in the inaugural World Bowl in 1991, returning one interception 20 yards for a touchdown, to earn MVP honors as London shut out Barcelona 21-0.
Crossman earned his bachelor's degree in business administration and communications from Pittsburgh in 1990. He and his wife, Susan, have a son, Kyle, and a daughter, Kaylie.
Defensive back Kansas 1985, Fullback/Defensive back Pittsburgh 1987-89. Pro defensive back: London Monarchs (WLAF) 1991-92. College coach: U.S. Coast Guard Academy 1993, Western Kentucky 1994-96, Central Florida 1997-98, Georgia Tech 1999-01, Michigan State 2002. Pro coach: joined Panthers in 2003.