the study of all things kicker related

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

NFL Week 16: Christmas Presents

Around the NFL this past holiday weekend...

In New England, the Patriots rallied for 27-24 win over the Dolphins. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski - who has just put the teams first points on the board early in the third quarter with a 45 yard field goal - also came up big in the subsequent kickoff. Dolphins returner Clyde Gates was on his way to the endzone, but Gostkowski tripped him up.
"I got a hand on his foot and luckily he went down. The few times I have to step up to make a play, that’s what I try to do. I got lucky.... It was a big play and it feels even more rewarding since we made them turn the ball over right after that and ended up winning the game. I guess that [tackle] was my Christmas present."
In Kansas City, the disturbing trend of blocked field goals continued. Well, disturbing to the kicking teams, because the defending teams have certainly been pleased with the blocks. On the last play of the first half, Raiders DT Richard Seymour blocked a 49 yard field goal attempt by Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop. Then on the last play of the fourth quarter with the game tied, it was déjà vu. Another 49 yard attempt by Succop. Another block by Seymour. That sent the game to overtime, where Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski quickly ended things with a 36 yard field goal, giving Oakland a 16-13 win.
"It felt good, what do you want me to say?... I mean, guys did a good job protecting. Shane [Lechler] put it down, [Jon] Condo centered the ball and it went through."
In Seattle,  49ers kicker David Akers has set the NFL record for most field goals in one season. He has now made 42 field goals (with one game remaining), breaking the former mark of 40 set by Neil Rackers. His four field goals this week were part of San Francisco's rally in their 19-17 win over the Seahawks.
“When you have adversity and you’re able to respond, I think that’s what you’re talking about as far as seeing a championship team develop.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

NFL Week 15: Awesome, Great, Fun...

Around the NFL this past weekend...

In Arizona, kicker Jay Feely hit a 33 yard field goal with 5:40 remaining to tie the game. In overtime, he made a 22 yarder to give the Cardinals a 20-17 win over the Browns.
"I thought it was going to be a 54 yarder. But when John threw the great ball and Larry caught it, I was just relieved.... It was a good weekend for the Feely's too. My brother [Nick] hit a 43 yard field goal with 37 seconds left to give his team the state championship down in Florida. So, that was an awesome weekend for us."
In Oakland, the Raiders were trailing the Lions 27-28 as the clock was winding down. On the final play, kicker Sebastian Janikowski attempted a 65 yard field goal - two yards longer than the league record which he co-owns.
"I kicked it very well. I can't hit it any better. The snap and Shane's placement was perfect."
But the kick was no good as defender Ndamukong Suh got part of the ball:
"It hit my thumb. I looked back and saw it twirling....
Obviously, it was a great moment. I'm usually not that excited about things, but it's what you play the game for."
In Kansas City, the Packers perfect record was no longer perfect after an upset 19-14 win by Chiefs. The majority of the scoring came off the foot of kicker Ryan Succop. His field goals of 19, 32, 46 & 20 yards extended his active streak of successful kicks to 21 field goals.
“It’s not as fun when you make them and you don’t win, so when you make them and you get a win, it’s even better.”
Green Bay's chances for a late comeback ended when their onside kick attempt just prior to the two minute warning was unsuccessful. Kicker Mason Crosby commented afterward:
“I kicked the extra point and when I came back down, we made the call to do the onside. I thought we could do it. If we had been able to execute it, it might have been a different story. The ball came out a little hot, and we weren’t able to recover it.”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kicking in Haiti

"I feel so happy to see what happened in the country and to see all the Haitians come to the game. It was incredible. We only have one thing left, and that's football. You can play and all the world is watching you. The flag can fly everywhere because of football. It's the one thing that people live for now."
Haitian national team player James Marcelin, who also plays for the Portland Timbers, made the preceding comments following Haiti's 6-0 win over the U.S. Virgin Islands during 2014 World Cup qualifiers in early September of this year. Goalkeeper Steward Ceus, who also plays for the Colorado Rapids, added his thoughts:
"I was in college when I heard a buzz about Haiti being interested in seeing me. Coming here left me speechless. The fans come after training, before training, crowding around the bus. My passion for soccer has always been there and I always wished that the people around me shared that passion. For the first time I found the passion I've been looking for....
I have never seen a country with so many talents as here. If you put these guys in Manchester United and Barcelona, they would be great player[s]. The problem is to be a great player you need good food and a good environment. Here is nothing."
Already the poorest country in the Americas, Haiti was further devastated on January 12, 2010 by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that left approximately 300,000 people dead, another 300,000 injured, and a million homeless. As has happened elsewhere throughout the world over the past century, the continuation of soccer provides a unique form of therapeutic relief. For the national team, their World Cup qualifying aspirations ultimately ended with a 1-0 loss to Antigua & Barbuda in early November. But, like elsewhere throughout the world, kicking the round ball occurs at many different levels.

When we asked some of our kicking contacts to discuss important charities and causes, Haiti surfaced twice. Tom Feely, patriarch of the kicking Feely family, noted their programs which began this past summer.
"My son, John Feely, started the World Ministries Football Club which provides Soccer camps, and Christian ministries to children in Haiti. It is backed financially by the Feely Family Foundation which is a philanthropic organization to fund outreach programs."
Phase 2 gets under way in 2012: WMFC will organize and support a youth soccer team affiliated with the Mission of Hope School. The team will be open to elementary and high school students and WMFC will sponsor local children that are not already enrolled to attend school. The team will practice locally and travel to play games against other school and youth teams in Haiti. Every year, WMFC will return with coaches and trainers to run a camp for the team and other children interested in soccer. More information can be found on their webpage and on Facebook.

Brandon Kornblue of Kornblue Kicking was the first to respond to our general inquiry:
"This message has nothing to do with kicking or punting. It is something much more important. If you are interested in doing something to help the people of Haiti, please keep reading.

Many people feel the desire to do something for those in need, but either don't think they could make a difference or don't know which organization to trust. Don't think you can make a difference? It costs only 17 cents per meal to feed someone in Haiti. Don't know which organization to trust? I am able to share firsthand knowledge of my experience with an organization in Haiti which is providing hope to the country and has the infrastructure to help people who desperately need it.

In June 2008, I spent a perspective-altering week in Haiti with Mission of Hope, an organization based 45 minutes outside of Port-au-Prince. Brad Johnson is the director of Mission of Hope, Haiti. His parents had a vision to build a mission complex that would effectively reach out and minister to the physical and spiritual needs of the less fortunate people in Haiti. Brad, his wife Vanessa, and their children have helped bring hope into Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The Mission of Hope Complex now sits on 76 acres of land and consists of the School of Hope, the Hope House Orphanage and the Hospital of Hope. In addition, the Mission of Hope assists close to 200 children in four other orphanages in nearby villages through the Feed A Child program. The Mission of Hope is able to contribute to the local economy by employing over 150 Haitian women and men.

Please keep Haiti and the Mission of Hope team in your prayers. If you can, please send a donation of any size. The country consists of many wonderful people who simply need help. I worked with this team in Haiti a few years ago and have supported several of their fundraising projects. I have seen and heard how they responded to the 4 hurricanes that hit Haiti in 2008. I can say with complete confidence that they will be good stewards with your donations.

Updated info from MOH and the link to donate can be found here: Mission of Hope: Haiti

Thank you so much for reading this and anything you are willing to do to help. God bless you!"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tom Lynch Repeats as Fred Mitchell Award Winner

Saint Xavier University senior place-kicker Tom Lynch is the recipient of the 2011 Fred Mitchell Award. The Award is provided to the nation’s top place-kicker in FCS, Division II, Division III, NAIA and NJCAA for excellence on the football field and in the community. Over 750 place-kickers are eligible.

The Award is named for Fred Mitchell, the All-American place-kicker from Wittenberg University and longtime sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Mitchell said, “I am pleased to congratulate Tom Lynch as the recipient of the 2011 Fred Mitchell Award, which is particularly impressive since he also received this Award after the 2010 season. With more than 750 place-kickers to choose from, we are extremely proud to recognize Tom in this fashion. He scored more points than each of these 750 place-kickers in 2011, he is extremely accurate and he has been instrumental to the continued success of the Cougars. I am equally proud of Lynch’s sincere commitment to school and community service, which helps set him apart from an incredibly strong field of finalists in the eyes of our Selection Committee.”

“Winning the Fred Mitchell award for the second time puts me at a complete loss for words,” said Lynch. “I was so thankful to be the recipient of this award last year and now winning it again leaves me with an indescribable feeling. I truly believe that without God in my life, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, not only on the football field but also in my everyday life. Winning this award this week and then playing for a national championship this Saturday, I could not have scripted a better ending for my college career.”

Lynch participates in the school’s annual service day where students do community service projects, he volunteers at Misericordia which maximizes the potential of people with mild or profound developmental disabilities, he provides complimentary maintenance services and volunteers at the South Bridge Community Church summer day camp, he volunteers at the Kids Enjoy Exercise Now program to support a not-for-profit volunteer-led organization that provides one-on-one recreational opportunities for children and young adults with mental and physical disabilities and he is a place-kicking tutor at his high school alma mater (Lincoln Way East).

“What a tremendous honor for Tom to win such a prestigious award two years in a row,” said Saint Xavier University football coach Mike Feminis. “He’s had an outstanding career and is very deserving. What better way is there to end your career than to be playing on the biggest stage possible? I am really happy for Tom and I know he’ll save his best game for the one in Rome, Georgia, on December 17!”

The Award’s Selection Committee Chairman, Chris Kearney, said, “There were dozens of terrific candidates for this Award. In fact, 44 place-kickers were nominated by their schools for consideration. Tom was on the Award’s Watch List in August and we recognized him during the season for stellar performance. The voting results were extremely close this year, and we are looking forward to honoring Tom on February 20, 2012 at Halas Hall during the National Football Foundation Chicago Metro Chapter Awards Ceremony.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

NFL Week 14: Hand vs. Foot

For the kicker, it's about getting his foot on the ball in the precise motion, on a precise spot, at a precise moment. For the defender, it's about getting his hand somewhere on the ball immediately thereafter.

In Dallas last night, the Giants were leading 37-34 with six seconds remaining. The Cowboys were attempting a potential game tying 47-yard field goal. New York DE Jason Pierre-Paul got two opportunities to try and block the kick, thanks to the weekly icing of the Dallas kicker.
"The first one, the guard blocked me. He's a strong cat, you know? He was heavy; I couldn't push him.... I didn't even know it was a timeout. I thought we were going into overtime...
The second one, I was like, 'Man, I have to push through the center to at least try to get the blocked kick. I gave great effort, and I blocked the kick. I didn't go through the guard. I stepped left and blocked through the center. It felt good."
For Cowboys' kicker Dan Bailey, who attempts a game tying or winning field goal almost every week, it was the second week in a row where the second attempt didn't go as planned.
"I felt like I hit the first one good. And I thought I was hitting the ball well today. It's one of those things and [you] look at it on tape and see what went wrong and move on....
My thoughts were 'Let's go win the game.' That’s all I can do is go out there and put it through. I'm not really sure what happened. I was never thinking, 'Oh no.' That's what I'm here for, to make field goals. It's never a negative thought. It's always positive."
In Denver yesterday afternoon, the Bears blocked a Broncos' 28 yard field goal attempt in the second quarter. In overtime however, Chicago DE Israel Idonije was unable to get a hand on the clinching 51 yard attempt, and Denver won the game 13-10.
"That last one, I had an opportunity. If I had it to do all over again, I'd change some things. He kicked it a little to the left of my hand. I put up my hand, and the ball went left. It was a good kick. I give him credit for it. He did his job."
For the Broncos it was yet another in a string of improbable late game rallies. For their kicker Matt Prater, his long range winner followed an even longer range 59 yarder that had tied the game with just three seconds remaining in regulation.
“I don’t know. We are just taking it as we can and winning games. That is all we care about – winning games. We don’t care how we get it done.”
This year I’ve had more [game winners] than I have in my whole career. I am definitely going to be bald at the end of the season; bald or gray, one of the two.”

Friday, December 9, 2011

And the Winners Are... Randy Bullock & Ryan Allen

And the winners of the two big awards at the Home Depot College Football Awards are [drum roll]...

Lou Groza Award: Randy Bullock
Texas A&M kicker Randy Bullock’s senior season ended with his emotional acceptance of the Lou Groza Award during tonight’s College Football Awards Show on ESPN. In August, Bullock dedicated this season to the memory of his late father, Richard, who died in 2003 of a heart attack. Randy Bullock was a freshman in high school at the time. Bullock said he selected this season to dedicate to his father, who taught him how to kick a football, because he knew it could be his last to play organized football. Then, he went out and led the nation in field goals (25), connecting on 86.2 percent of his attempts (25-of-29). Heading into tonight’s ceremony, Bullock said being a Groza recipient “would mean the world to me and to my family because that was my motivation be successful.” When his name was called as the winner, Bullock closed his eyes briefly and his voice cracked when he elaborated about what it meant to be honored as college football’s top kicker in the season he dedicated to his father’s memory. “It was very special,” Bullock said. “It means that much to me and to my family. We were in this together. I definitely felt his presence throughout out the whole season, especially tonight once my name was called.”

- Star-Telegram.
Ray Guy Award: Ryan Allen
Louisiana Tech punter Ryan Allen, a junior from Salem, Ore., was honored during Thursday’s show by winning the Ray Guy Award. Allen ranks third nationally with a 46.3-yard average on 78 punts. “I thought anybody could win it,” Allen said. “I had no intentions on any national awards. I just set a few goals I wanted to reach. “You set high goals, and I’m looking forward to coming back next year.”

- The Advocate

Thursday, December 8, 2011

NAIA: Small Schools, Big Kicks – part 2

Last week we began our discussion of kicking and punting in NAIA schools by talking to persons with direct knowledge of the topic. This week we continue with more responses from more NAIA kickers and punters.

Mitchell Mascaro, Cumberlands
“Being a punter or a kicker at a smaller school in a lower division has its advantages and disadvantages. Because you are at a lower division it allows many freshmen to receive varsity playing time. Another advantage of a small school is that those who are academically oriented will receive more individual support from actual professors. Although small schools have their advantages, there are some benefits of a larger school that one cannot find at a smaller one. For true development, a kicker or punter needs a full time coach for his position and the majority of small schools do not have them, which means that we are forced to develop our athletic abilities on our own. Another disadvantage is that a small school does not get as much media exposure as that of the larger schools which in turn limits your ability to be seen by scouts. Due to the lack of media, most small schools also lack the large fan base. Despite these disadvantages, the NAIA still produces successful kickers and punters. The experiences that I have had are ones that I will never forget. I am proud to be an athlete of the NAIA and would recommend it to any prospective kicker or punter looking for the small college atmosphere.”

Aaron Mize, Shorter
“Punting to me is something that seems to be looked over sometimes. I came into Shorter not really knowing where I would be in the line up. I won the starting position two games into the season. No matter what anyone says you do have a special job, as a punter. You are the defense’s great asset. You always can change the tone of the game by pinning them deep in their own in of the field. So no matter what anyone says, you are a very important part of any football team. No matter how small you are, you are a very big part of a football team.”

Kollin Carman, Saint Francis
“I feel like being at a smaller university is actually a benefit. Yeah, we all had dreams of going to a D1 school, who doesn't? Which I had the opportunity to do, but when you sit there and think about it, at a large school you'll be just a number to them in the class room and it takes a while for all the coaches to get to know you. Which is where being a kicker or punter at a small school becomes very beneficial. You get more personal with teachers and coaches, and also the people in the stands get a chance to learn who you are after games. Yes there is a down side to being at a smaller school, such as being on ESPN and stuff like that, but if you love the sport it shouldn't really matter. Kicking is kicking and punting is punting. If you’re good at it you will get noticed. I feel like if you have dreams of making it to the NFL, don't worry about what school you’re at… if you’re good then they will find you.”

Derek Mathewson, Trinity International
“It is very demanding and stressful at times, considering the higher level you go the better the talent level is, and more than less teams won't punt as often.”

Name Witheld Upon Request
“It’s easy, laid back more than other positions. We have a "kicking coach", but he hardly ever does anything but tell us when to run laps... so I spent most of this year just working at my own pace, and working on what I wanted to work on.”

Mike O’Brien, Northwestern College
“Kicking in the NAIA can be a terrific experience if you’re well prepared. Obviously, there are very few kicking coaches at smaller schools, so you need to come in ready to be your own coach. Something that I haven't learned until later in my collegiate career is to have good communication and repetition with my snappers and holders and getting them to understand that they are as important to the process of me making kicks as I am. With that being said, if you are able to master that, it really is a great place to play. I am really fortunate to be at a school where my coaches and teammates not only care about me as a football player but as a man. I’m not sure that a lot of people can say that at bigger schools. Not to mention we also have an outstanding football program.”

Johnny Garcia, Hastings
“Being in a smaller school really lets you grasp the overall feel of being a college athlete, even more as a kicker/punter where usually we go under the radar. Because of being in a smaller, private school, we’re more noticeable and ultimately end up being an essential component to the result of the game just like a quarterback or a d-lineman. Kicking in any division will always be kicking. A 50 yard field goal in D1 is the same distance as in NAIA, so a lot of good kickers and punters go unnoticed due to the size of their school preference, when in reality, they can play up to the same caliber as other athletes in better divisions. So, school size or division shouldn't play a role in the choice of school. It is more of a self preference because in the end, it’s more about finding the school and the program that fits you the best, not the other way around.”

Ezequiel Rivera, Central Methodist
“As a freshman, starting kicking for my college was a great experience. There's a lot of Competition out there… that's what makes it interesting and fun. How I see it is it doesn't matter if you kick for an NAIA or NCAA shool, but as long you show your talent on the field every game is what counts. Kicking for my college is not just a job for me, but something that I love doing everyday with my heart.”

Garrett Chumley, Baker University
“Originally transferring from Washburn University (a D-II school) to Baker University, I feel like I have a pretty unique perspective on what life as an NAIA specialist is like. The major difference is obviously the size of the institution at which you play. In comparing it to a larger state university/college, NAIA schools are a lot smaller in size. Baker has around 1,000 students on the main campus. The facilities are a lot smaller but still very adequate for what you need as an athlete. Crowd size is another big difference. As an athlete at the NAIA level you don't get the chance to play in front of tens of thousands of fans on a weekly basis. However, to a good kicker or punter, crowd size should be irrelevant. Finally, at the NAIA level, grades are stressed a lot. Class attendance is more strict, and grades play a bigger factor in playing time.

In terms of the actual life of an NAIA punter, I feel like it's not much different than any other level. We are required to do drills during practice, but on our own. I'm not sure I've heard of an NAIA school with an official kicking "coach". A lot of our work is done in the off-season. Personally, this involved going to pro-development camps, "combines", and private lessons with my long snapper. We carry over the drills from these off-season camps and such to practice during the season. Other than that, I would say that the life of an NAIA specialist is pretty similar to that of any other division of football. We are still guys out there kicking, punting, and snapping, and enjoying football.”

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

NFL Week 13: More Than Icing

Based on media coverage, it seems as if the Cowboys' untimely timeout and resulting undone field goal was the only kicking news from this past weekends' NFL games. That is not the case.

In New England, fans greeted Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri - who of course had achieved legendary clutch status when playing for the Patriots during the first part of his career. They greeted him with boos as he went out for a field goal attempt.
"Ah, they were nice to me except for a few of the kicks. Obviously, there’s a lot of gamesmanship going out on there, so I expected that stuff....
I mean, I never played for the Yankees {like former Red Sox player Johnny Damon did]. I think there is more hatred there. This is a fun place for me. The fans are great and wild and crazy. There’s a lot of good memories here, so yes it is a special place to play. Obviously, there’s a lot of gamesmanship going on out there at that point, but as I was leaving the field, there was some nice comments, so that was cool."
In New York (well, actually in New Jersey), the Packers rallied to beat the Giants 38-35. Mason Crosby kicked the 30 yard game winner on the final play of the game.
“It’s been five years now, and I’ve had what, five [game winning] attempts? That’s unheard of in the NFL. Games are so tight. This was a great opportunity, get a big win on the road, going for 12-0, clinch some things up. It was important. I think it just says a lot about our team, the way our offense, I mean we have a minute left, we take a touchback, get the ball at the 20-yard line and just march down the field, and we’re in field-goal position after just a couple of plays. That was awesome to see after a back-and-forth struggle with this team....
[On an earlier miss in the game] I had been hitting a little right-to-left draw, and I must’ve been lined up a little bit on that right upright. I hit a good ball, and it just moved a little right. Obviously extremely disappointed there at halftime to not get those points. Then the scenario at the end, I had to hit a game-winner to finish it off. I’m happy that I hit that one at the end and finished what I started.”
In Minnesota, the Broncos continued their streak of late game heroics, rallying to beat the Vikings 35-32. Matt Prater's 46 yard field goal with 1:33 remaining tied the game and his 23 yarder as time expired won it.
"Yeah, that felt like [the tying kick] was definitely more important. They're all important. You've got to hit them all."

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fred Mitchell Award 2011 Finalists

Ten finalists have been named for the 2011 Fred Mitchell Award, which is provided to the Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III, NAIA or NJCAA place-kicker that excels on the football field and in the community. The place-kicker chosen for this Award will be announced by December 15, and he will be honored on February 20, 2012 at the National Football Foundation Chicago Chapter Awards Ceremony at Halas Hall. 

There were 44 place-kickers nominated for this Award. The breakdown of the 10 finalists is as follows:
• Collegiate Division – 4 FCS, 1 Division II, 5 Division III, 1 NAIA, 0 NJCAA
• State – the place-kickers play at schools located in 7 different states
• Year – 5 Seniors, 4 Juniors, 1 Sophomore, 0 Freshmen

In alphabetical order, the finalists for the 2011 Fred Mitchell Award are listed below.

GREGG BERKSHIRE, Ashland University (Ohio) – Division II
Senior from Ashland, OH….leads the team in scoring with 85 points from 16 of 28 FG’s and 37 of 38 PAT’s….owns school kicking records for career PAT’s (155), FG’s (56) and points (323)….led the Conference in kick scoring, FG’s per game and 2nd in PAT %….All-GLIAC Second Team Place-Kicker….GLIAC Special Teams Player of the Week six times in his career including after making the game-winning FG as time expired to beat Wayne State 20-17 on October 15….d2football.com National Special Teams Player of the Week two times in his career including after October 15 win over Wayne State….GLIAC career leader in FG’s….was kicker on summer 2011 United States team that won the Gold Medal at the International Federation of American Football Senior World Championship…. filmed a television spot for Ashland County United Way to promote the United Drive program to collect canned goods from local residents…volunteered for United Drive collection campaign…spoke to Ashland Middle School students about the importance of goal setting and he also read them books….guest speaker at several Sunday School classes at local church….involved in community drive to upgrade Ashland City Schools where he distributed literature, posted signs in the community and sent letters to support the initiative…joined teammates at campus bookstore to read stories to area children

ZACH BROWN, Portland State University (Oregon) – FCS
Junior from Keizer, OR….led the Vikings in scoring with 101 points from 24 of 27 FG’s, 27 of 29 PAT’s and one 2-point conversion rush….led the Big Sky Conference in FG % and only FG misses were from 46+ yards….led FCS in FG’s made per game….holds school record for most career FG’s with 60 and with one season yet to play….set school record for most FG’s in a season….All-Big Sky Conference First Team….set school record with 16 consecutive FG’s made dating to last season before missing a 53-yard FG….has made 6 of the school’s 10 all-time FG’s over 50 yards including 53-yard FG against Montana on October 15…tied career record with 44 consecutive PAT’s made….scored 10 points in 38-36 loss against then-#3 Montana State on October 8….scored 13 points in 43-26 win over defending National Champions Eastern Washington on October 29….averaged 61 yards on 70 kickoffs….volunteer at McLaren Juvenile Detention Center….participated in Male Involvement Night at River Road Head Start which is a child development program for low-income and special needs children…participated in the Walk to D’Feet ALS in memory of longtime school booster Elinore Nudelman

ALLEN CAIN, Texas Lutheran University – Division III
Junior from San Antonio, TX…led the team the team in scoring with 83 points from 17 of 21 FG’s and 32 of 32 PAT’s….led Division III in FG’s made….set American Southwest Conference and school records for FG’s in a season….made 53-yard FG to tie school record….five-time ASC Special Teams Player of the Week in 2011…three-time D3football.com Team of the Week selection in 2011….tied for 4th in Division III kick scoring with 83 points….averaged 64 yards on 58 kickoffs….involved in campus community and Seguin community as math grader, resident hall assistant, Student Government Senator, Team Captain, Provost’s List, FCA Member, SAAC football team representative….Seguin Youth Services math tutor….youth football coach

JACOB GAHART, Ripon College (Wisconsin) – Division III
Junior from Elkhorn, WI…. led the Red Hawks in scoring with 77 points from 15 of 16 FG’s, 30 of 33 PAT’s and one 2-point conversion…his 15 FG’s breaks the single season school record…his 31 career FG’s breaks the school record of 25, with one year left of eligibility…converted a school-record 54-yard FG in season finale against Lawrence on November 5, breaking the previous mark by seven yards…54-yard FG ranks second in Midwest Conference history… converted all three of his field goals against Lawrence on November 5, tying the school record for most FG’s in a single game…scored a season-high 14 points against Lawrence on November 5…five-time Midwest Conference Special Teams Performer of the Week this season out of 10 possible weeks….named All-Conference for the third consecutive season and All-Conference First Team for the second straight year…15 FG’s this season led the MWC and is nearly double the second-highest total (8)…ranks 7th in school history for career points (215), making him the only kicker to rank in the top 10…has made 11 consecutive FG’s…11-for-11 on FG’s less than 42 yards this season…scored 38 points in October from 8 of 8 FG”s, 12 of 13 PAT’s and one 2-point conversion…. made his second 45-yard FG of the season against St. Norbert on October 29 which is his 3rd longest FG and 7th longest in school history….averaged 53 yards on 60 kickoffs….has one reception for 9 yards this season….career development department volunteer at Ripon College….mentor to students at Ripon Middle School….assisted with research to establish an improved test for freshmen during Summer orientation

BRAD GREENWAY, Cornell University (New York) - FCS
Senior from Encinitas, CA….led team in scoring with 75 points from 13 of 15 FG’s and 36 of 36 PAT’s….Team Captain….All-Ivy League First Team….first player in school history to lead the team in scoring four straight seasons….led Conference in scoring….set school’s career kick scoring record (189 points), season scoring (75 points), career FG’s (34) and career PAT’s (87)….two-time Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week….set school record with 14 kicking points in a game against Columbia….gathered school supplies, cleats and jerseys to bring to children in Ghana as part of community service initiative...visited an Agent Orange community in Vietnam that has disabled children whose parents were impacted during the Vietnam War where he visited several schools to play with children...reads to elementary school students as a volunteer in a local program...volunteer coach in the Challenger Soccer Camps for special needs children…volunteers at Ithaca’s Salvation Army by helping organize clothes and goods throughout the store...Boys and Girls Club of San Diego volunteer

BILLY JANSSEN, Drake University (Iowa) – FCS
Senior from Round Lake Beach, IL….led the Bulldogs in scoring with 70 points from 12 of 16 FG’s and 34 of 37 PAT’s ….scored 15 points in 41-26 win over Morehead State on October 8….scored 9 points in 27-23 win over Missouri S&T on September 17….tied for 2nd in PFL in FG’s made and 6th in PFL scoring….69 of 72 in career PAT’s….averaged 55 yards on 33 kickoffs….instrumental leader on the team’s May 2011 trip to Tanzania, Africa to perform service projects and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro as extensions of the Bulldogs’ Global Kilimanjaro Bowl game…helped build an addition on a school and make significant repairs to orphanages and schools in Moshi and Arusha…helped organize his teammates for their participation in the program’s annual Youth Day where area school children are invited to come to Drake Stadium for an afternoon of football-related fun and games…volunteers with the football team at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Des Moines….visited youth at the Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines….packed meals for “Meals from the Heartland”

JOSH KAY, Linfield College (Oregon) – Division III
Junior from Salem, OR….led the team in scoring with 93 points from 14 of 17 FG’s and 51 of 52 PAT’s….First Team Northwest Conference All-Star…ranks 2nd in school history with 14 FG’s in a season….longest FG of the season was 49 yards…4 of 5 FG’s from 40+ yards…ranks 3rd on Linfield’s single-season list for FG % (82.4%)…made all 10 PATs in 73-7 win over Puget Sound on October 8…made all 4 FG’s in 47-14 win over Lewis & Clark on November 12…made the first 35 PAT’s without a miss this season before suffering his first miscue…ranks 5th in school history for PATs made in one season…two-time NWC Special Teams Player of the Week….averaged 62 yards on 30 kickoffs… football camp volunteer for the "See Ya Later" Foundation…works with the Foundation’s director on developing and managing a Kids Golf Camp for the spring of 2012 with the goal of reaching 150 local youth …competes in golf at Linfield where he helped the school capture the 2011 Northwest Conference championship…competed at the 2011 NCAA Division III Championships

TOM LYNCH, Saint Xavier University (Illinois) - NAIA
Senior from Frankfort, IL….2nd in the nation among all place-kickers at all levels in scoring this season (NCAA, NAIA, NCJAA) trailing only Quinn Sharp from Oklahoma State with 120 points….leads the #5 ranked Cougars with 117 points from 17 of 23 FG’s and 66 of 70 PAT’s… ….had career-long and tied school record with a 55-yard FG in playoff win over #13 Bethel on November 19….scored 64 points during October from 10 of 13 FG’s and 34 of 35 PAT’s….set NAIA single-game record with 21 points in 75-33 win over Taylor University on October 22….scored 18 points in 42-31 win over St. Francis on October 1….set school record for career points on October 22 with 322 points surpassing previous record of 317 points….named NAIA National Special Teams Player of the Week on both October 3 and October 24….honored by Beyond Sports Network as a NAIA National Special Teams Player of the Week for the weeks of October 3 and October 24….set NAIA record for career PAT’s (225 currently) on October 29 with 6 PAT’s in 63-3 win over Concordia (Michigan)….averaged 57 yards on 68 kickoffs….participated in the school’s annual Service Day where students do community service projects….volunteers at Misericordia in Chicago which is a community of care that maximizes potential for persons with mild to profound developmental disabilities….Vice President of school’s Criminal Justice Club….South Bridge Community Church summer day camp volunteer and provides complimentary maintenance….place-kicker tutor to kicker at his high school alma mater and other high schools….volunteers at Kids Enjoy Exercise Now to support a not-for-profit volunteer-led organization that provides one-on-one recreational opportunities for children and young adults with mental and physical disabilities

SCOTT ROCHE, Wheaton College (Illinois) – Division III
Senior from Evergreen, CO…led the team in scoring with 74 points from 13 of 16 FG’s and 35 of 42 PAT’s….scored 13 points in 49-21 win over Elmhurst College on October 8….First Team All-Conference…averaged 60 yards on 70 kickoffs….works with area youths as a leader in the Young Life program at a nearby high school for three nights each week….volunteered for Feed My Starving Children by packaging approximately 1,000 meals for those in need….actively participates in the football program’s ministry project each year during Spring Break, most recently in Senegal to help missionaries with work projects and building churches, playgrounds, lodging and other necessities….in his 4th year as a leader of a small group of football players as a part of ministry

TYLER SIEVERTSEN, University of Northern Iowa – FCS
Sophomore from Cedar Rapids, IA….led the team in scoring with 85 points from 17 of 18 FG’s and 34 of 34 PAT’s….leads Conference kickers in scoring….ranks 2nd in FCS in FG% among kickers with 12+ attempts and ranks 16th in FG’s made…made 8 FG’s from 40+ yards…made season-long 48-yard FG’s three times….has made 40 straight kicks including FG’s and PAT’s….made 40-yard game-tying FG with 5 seconds left to force OT and made 36-yard FG in double OT to beat Illinois State on November 19….scored 10+ points against three ranked opponents including Illinois State (11 points), Indiana State (11 points) and Stephen F. Austin (10 points)….has participated in the Just Read program that connects school student-athletes with elementary school students….Special Olympics volunteer….Kickers in the Midwest mentor…high school football camp volunteer….Salvation Army bell ringer

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Big Kickers on Campus, 2011 week 14

A summary of notable kicking during the fourteenth week of the 2011 college football season:

Junior kicker Tyler Bitancurt made a 28 yard field goal on the final play of the game to give South Florida a 30-27 win over West Virginia.
"We never gave up and there were plenty of opportunities for us to quit and we pulled through. Going in for that field goal, I felt really confident and the whole team was backing me up on the sidelines and showing that they believed in me, which definitely helps. I wasn’t sure how far the kick was going to be, I just knew that we had to be ready to put it through. Thankfully, Geno made a great play and got us a little closer and the penalty obviously helped because I’m closer to the uprights. I had a good feeling that I was going to put it down the middle."
Sophomore kicker Mathew Sims, after having earlier missed a PAT, hit a 33 yard field goal as time expired to give Northern Illinois a 23-20 win over Ohio.
"I lost focus. For a split second, I started thinking about something else. I started thinking about the rest of the game, winning by one point, and I just toed it. I lost focus. I let my teammates down. I felt horrible I missed that extra point....
I knew I couldn’t let them down twice in a row. We fought too hard, our seniors came back, I knew I had to make that kick for them. Once I saw it go through the uprights, I was on cloud nine."
Senior kicker Dave Teggart made four field goals (35, 46, 53 and 43 yards) in Connecticut's 27-35 loss to Cincinnati.
"I don't know if I'm ready to leave here. I love this place. I love the team. I love those guys in there, you know, and one reason why is because we were down pretty significantly in that first half and there was no quit in any of those guys and they came back fighting and just came up a little bit short."
Junior kicker Kevin Harper made four field goals (37, 36, 36 & 47 yards) in Pittsburgh's 33-20 win over Syracuse.

If we missed someone that should be on the above list, please let us know!

Friday, December 2, 2011

NAIA: Small Schools, Big Kicks – part 1

Large universities in NCAA Division I receive extensive media coverage. Small colleges get far less. Throwing, catching and running with a football receive lots of press. Kicking and punting - not so much. Discussion of small school kicking and punting is virtually nonexistent. To rectify that situation, we reached out to kickers and punters from numerous schools in the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics).

Eric DeLira, Azusa Pacific
“I think when a lot of people think of NAIA football they just ignore it because it’s not D1 football. At Azusa Pacific I felt the big time college football atmosphere from the players, fans, students, coaches, and school. From the way we were treated on day one in camp and throughout the season was first class all the way! As for future kickers, I think the most important thing to do is work on the little techniques of kicking and to start working on the mental side of the game. Life as an NAIA kicker is great. I had a blast my first year at Azusa Pacific being a student athlete doing what I love.”

Zach Maxey, Morningside
It is almost relaxing to the point that I do not really do anything in practice besides my own drills. Being a kicker is pretty much all mental. Along with my drills I do in practice, I also do ‘mental reps’. It sounds silly, but it really does help just picturing the ball going through the uprights. It helps with your mental mind for when the time comes and the seconds are winding down and you need a field goal to tie or win the game. It keeps you relaxed and makes you feel like you have been there before. I do put in a lot of time in to being a kicker by watching film of myself. I will go from watching my bad kicks to watching my good ones to see what is different that I did. Being a kicker in NAIA, I'm sure it’s nothing compared to being one in NCAA or the NFL and kicking in front of thousands of people. At the same time it is all the same because you are not competing against anyone except yourself. You can control your stats and how well you perform. It is like there is almost no difference between the different levels of football.”

Mike Camargo, Culver-Stockton
“Before I came to NAIA, I have never heard of the division, especially Culver Stockton College. This school in general only has about eight to nine hundred students and is in a small town, Canton. Coming to this school was a complete culture shock for me. Even though the school is small and the NAIA is not the highest level of football, I would consider it to still have a lot of great talent. I have high respect for any athlete in the NAIA and if I had a choice to choose again I would go NAIA all over again.”

Tom Lynch, Saint Xavier
“One thing I always tell people is that there really is not a difference when it comes to kicking at a big school compared to a small school. [for example] The uprights are the same size in the NAIA as they are in the FBS.”

Yim Sribenjakul, Montana Western
“Well I am sure it is just like every other college! But the only difference that I can think of is that you don't get as much coaching as bigger colleges. I spend a lot of time coaching myself and try to get better on my own!”

Jeff Stamp, Ottawa
“The life as an NAIA kicker is one that is centered on academics more than athletics. NAIA schools usually are small and don't travel far, aren't shown on TV, and don't have the facilities like some top level programs. So the one thing that is stressed is passing classes and keeping up with the intense class schedule. The sports side is similar to one of a high school team. The stands aren't usually packed and everyone that comes probably knows you personally. Kicking comes down to what you put in you get out. There are usually no kicking coaches, or ones that know what they are doing. I got lucky this year when the previous kicker that graduated came back to coach the kickers. Usually kickers are told to go do drills by themselves on the side. So it is hard to improve without an outside opinion. My life this year can be described as easy going on the field and stressful in the classroom.”

Kelby Vandenberg, Nebraska Wesleyan
“Going to Nebraska Wesleyan University is one of the best decisions I have ever made. It is a very prestigious school academically, but it is also a great school athletically. I came to school here because I felt like it would provide me with the best opportunities career wise. I also chose a small school because you aren't just a number here. All the professors know you and what kind of person you are. The coaches treat you like a son. Coach Keller and his staff are great to me and my teammates. They are willing to help us out with anything. The coaches know about who we are and about our families. They are legitimately interested in what goes on in our lives outside of football. I feel like that kind of gets overlooked and isn't as much of an emphasis at bigger schools.”

Tyler Emmetts, Cumberland
“I began my senior year of high school football very strong, I was sure I would have at least a few "bigger" schools looking at me. In the end I ended up with four offers: three from NAIA schools and one from a D2 school. Not how I envisioned my status to be at that point. So I was skeptical of what playing at a smaller school would be like. To be honest I was not too excited. I accepted my offer from Cumberland University where I resided. Fall practice began and I competed for the punting and kicking job, and I ended up winning out the punting job. I felt just fine. I was formally just a kicker that molded into a punter my senior year of high school, so it was still relatively new to me. I became more excited about the season because of this position I had earned with my skill. The season began where I started as a true freshman. I had an amazing year, earning second team conference punter, with an average of 40.7 yards. Even the NAIA magazine recognized me entering my sophomore year ranking me into the top three punters in NAIA. What I had gained from all of this was not just confidence but a new mindset. I didn't need to be playing at a D1 School. I have found a small home that I fit right into. The point I am going for is this: most kickers think they only have a home at a D1 college and don't even give a D2 college and especially an NAIA college a chance. Success can be found in every level of college football. Just because you’re not on television doesn't mean people do not notice you. I have learned all of this with my stay at Cumberland. I would encourage all kickers who want to give the NAIA a shot. It is worth the time and effort and it will give everyone who plays in it self-gratitude to last a lifetime.”

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cruel Shoes or Kind Shoes?

But this was not an ordinary hideous pair of back and white pumps... Both were left feet. One had a right angle turn with sepa­rate compartments that pointed the toes in impossible directions. The other shoe was six inches long and was curved inward like a rocking chair with a vise and razor blades to hold the foot in place.
- excerpt from Cruel Shoes, by Steve Martin

We asked kickers, punters, and coaches to tell us a little bit about their kicking shoes...

"Like many other kickers, I wear the Copa Mundial by Adidas. Since the CFL is a RBK league, I have to colour in the three white stripes on the side. No Adidas logo can be showing or else I run the risk of being fined by the league. I also cut off the tongues so I can get cleaner contact on the ball and I buy the shoes two sizes too small so they fit really tight, like a glove. It's probably the only shoe I wouldn't mind kicking in out of the box on game day- I really like the soft K-leather."

"What kicking shoes?"

Nathan Chapman, Pro Kick Australia
"Adidas Copa Mundial for me, I like it because I can buy them really small and they mould really well to my foot so after a month they are fitting like a glove. As soon as they start getting older and loose I get a new pair."

Brandon Kornblue, Kornblue Kicking
"No piece of football equipment is more important to a kicker's success than the shoe. I always wanted a shoe that felt good and looked good. Kickers often talk about using a smaller sized shoe on their kicking foot, sometimes as much as 2 or 3 full sizes. I tried to use this technique but could only fit my size 11 foot into a 10 due to my foot width. I wished I had a higher pain tolerance or a narrower foot because I acknowledge that a smaller shoe makes ball-foot contact easier during placekicking. I always wore a different shoe on each foot. The kicking foot would get the softer leather and more form-fitting shoe, while the plant foot would get a shoe that offered more ankle stability and plant traction. My color preference was always black but the brand I used varied through the years. I initially used Nike's but when I got to the University of Michigan, I was influenced by teammates Jay Feely, Remy Hamilton, and a few other kickers who used Adidas Copa's. I tried them, loved 'em, and never found a more comfortable shoe. I used at least 5-10 different shoes in practice throughout my 7 year career in the Arena League but I always went back to the Copa during games."

Craig Pinto, Kicking 4 Celiac
"Black Nike Tiempos. Red Nike laces for good karma, and the tongue always to the left with the laces (I'm a lefty) so they don't get in the way of the sweet spot."

Michael Husted, National Camp Series
"Like most kickers, I used to wear soccer cleats a size or two smaller. Preferably kangaroo leather. I would:
  • Put on the new shoes and then soak them in bucket of water for about 10-15 minutes
  • Jog around and let them mold around my foot
  • File down the front/inside cleats so that they wouldn't grab the turf
  • Cut the tongue off the kicking shoe
  • Tuck my laces in
No matter what the surface, I would always wear the same shoe on my kicking foot. In college, I used to wear the Adidas Copas, but when I went to the NFL I switched to Nike (it was a no brainer since they offered me a contract to wear their shoes)."

Craig Hentrich, LEGacy Kicking
"Always wear a soccer shoe! They are flexible and fit a little tighter that normal football shoes. I am not, however, a believer that the kicking foot shoe should be 2 or 3 sizes smaller that the plant foot shoe. Some guys swear by this, but I believe in comfort. I will not perform well with my foot hurting from a super small shoe. The flexibility, in my opinion, is the most important characteristic that a kicking shoe should have because when we are making impact with the ball, our foot has to be locked out position. Anything that hinders this (i.e. a stiff shoe) will be a detriment to our consistency and power."

Brent Grablachoff, Kicking World
"I used the ‘Adidas Copa Mundial’ soccer cleat throughout my high school and college kicking career and it is still the most preferred kicking shoe among specialists in the NFL. Watch any NFL game and you will see one out of every few kickers or punters wearing them. Both Kickers and Punters can benefit from kangaroo leather soccer cleats like these. Kangaroo Leather is a soft and supple leather that molds to your feet and allows you to ‘feel’ the ball and control your kicks or punts. I highly recommend all my students wear a K-Leather kicking cleat. There are so many tricks and secrets kickers have for optimizing their kicking shoes. One I found quite useful over the years is to cut the tongue flap of your cleat and tuck in the laces on the outside corner so that you have a flush striking surface. Every little bit helps, even if it just makes you a little more confident! ... I actually wrote an entire blog post on the subject of ‘What are the Best Kicking Shoes?’"