Moving from one level of kicking up to the next is a highly competitive, very challenging, and often complex process. With National Signing Day once again nearly here, we take our second annual look at the move from high school to college. To get a sense of the key aspects of the recruiting process from the vantage point of the players, we asked kickers and punters from the Class of 2012 the following two questions:
- What would you say was the most beneficial advice you received before going through the recruiting process?
- Is there one thing you learned during the recruiting process that you wish you had known beforehand?
While everyone's unique individual circumstances led to varied answers, some common themes also emerged. We received numerous responses, so this topic will span several posts. Following is the first batch of answers:
Paul Griggs, Purdue
- Keep your options open. I began to understand this piece of advice very quickly because the recruiting game is changing just as quickly as the world of college coaching, so one week you may be talking to the special teams coach for a school and the next week he may have just taken a job half way across the country.
- Just how time consuming the process really is. It got to be a challenge to balance school work and recruiting work and I even had a ton of help from my parents. There were many nights where I would be on the phone with 3 or 4 coaches and those calls would take a few hours and then I would still have to eat dinner and do homework which made for some late nights.
Colby Cooke, Vanderbilt
- Stay honest to your coaches and do the best you can at college camps, and you will find a home.
- Nothing really important but it's a lot harder and longer than I expected.
Tyler Grassman, Buffalo
- Be patient. Kickers and Punters tend to be the last ones chosen as far scholarships go. Just to do all I can do, then once I have done that to be patient.
- I learned it was a difficult process. I learned even if I was told I was at the top of someone's list that there were many other Guys in the same boat as me. It was hard to cope with that. However I matured through the process and realized schools only take a kicker every 2-3 years and there are many kickers being just as competitive as I was.
Adam Griffith, Alabama
- Just be open minded and not be nervous. Get all the questions answered. Meet as many coaches as I could.
Sean Wale, Boise State
- Just keep working hard even through the ups and down of the recruiting process. To stay focused and that it is a very long road. Unfortunately the schools of your choice are not always scholarshipping kickers or punters for that year, so you have to do your homework on what schools are and try to get into contact with those schools. Also to get involved with a national kicking organization, get a good kicking coach, and just learn to network. The weight room and speed training were also a big plus in the process. It’s not all about football, but you also have to get good grades.
- I don't think there is anything I learned that I wish I would have known beforehand. From the beginning through networking I knew what I was getting myself into. I had talked to so many people who had gone through it before me so they basically lead the way. I did learn though that it is very competitive to kick or punt at the D1 level.
Conrad Ukropina, Standford
- Treat every day and every training session as if it served a major purpose in your ability to get to the next level. Not taking anything for granted definitely geared my mindset towards taking advantage of every opportunity set in front of me. Also, it made sure I didn't let any day of training go to waste; I knew I would get better every day, something that is huge when it comes to kicking and punting, as routine muscle memory drills are key to success.
- I wasted a lot of time as an underclassmen sending out mass emails and calling coaches. Honestly, these attempts at getting looks from big colleges when I was still relatively young and unproven turned out to be a complete waste of time. However, the two biggest things I found as a specialist to aid my recruitment were attending college camps and having my coach or someone who personally knew the college coach call him. Camps are obvious: you get exposure right in front of the eyes of the coaches who will ultimately be recruiting you. Furthermore, a college coach getting a referral from someone he knows and trusts (a well-known kicking coach or a high school head coach for example) carries more weight than a call from a junior place kicker-punter from Los Angeles who "thinks I can play for your school."
Thomas Meadows, Purdue
- I was told that being a kicker usually means that I would have to prove myself at that college's camp in order to get offered. This helped me because I wasn't stressed out during the school year about not getting offered yet. I knew I would have to wait until camp season.
- I didn't know that coaches really do look for good personal qualities in the players they recruit. They look for things like saying ‘sir’, how easy you get along with others, and how you carry yourself in certain situations. These are all things that can't be learned from a highlight tape. Luckily, I had been raised well and I had some of those qualities.
Cason Beatty, Florida State
- I was told to set my goals high and shoot for them but make sure you have a backup plan in case your number one school didn't come through.
- You don't always have to be in the front of the group but when you are spoken to, speak confidently and when it’s your turn to kick/punt step up with confidence and show them what you are bringing to the table.