the study of the kicking components within sports

Friday, February 21, 2014

NFL Scouting Combine 2014 - Day 2 for the Kickers & Punters

After an exciting first day of travel and exams, the second day of the NFL Scouting Combine for kickers and punters featured the requisite media frenzy and awaiting day three to actually do some kicking and punting: 

  • Chris Boswell (Rice): "A lot of soccer players can do it [on-side kick]. It's not anything that I invented or anything. I was just kind of messing around with it one day at practice with my buddy James Farrimond. We were kind of just trying to figure out ways to trick teams. We kind of just put the ball on the tee and that happened.... I had to show my special teams coach. From the first moment he saw it, he really liked it. Then we kind of just started working it in practice the week before. We got the time to work it in a game against Houston."
  • Anthony Fera (Texas)“I thought I left on a good note. Maybe not at the best time, but I thought I left on a good note and had a legitimate reason to leave. If I didn’t have a family issue I would’ve stayed. I loved Penn State and that’s where I signed up to play and that’s where I really wanted to finish my career, but family comes first to me.”
  • Zach Hocker (Arkansas): "I honestly thought about benching and running the 40 because it’s the NFL combine, it’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I don’t think I would do bad at them. It was just, I was looking at stats and guys who had been at the combine before and just statistically, the guys who got drafted were guys who focused strictly on kicking ended up being more successful at it. I’m not saying I won’t run a 40 or do bench press or something at our Pro Day in March. But just up here, solely focus on impressing scouts with kicks."
  • Cairo Santos (Tulane): “I’ve been practicing since I heard at combine they want you to kick it all different ways. It’s a matter of fundamentals, make sure you line up in the right spot. I’ve been told NFL coaches want touchbacks, so I’ll try to kick it as far as I can, but I also have a decent hang time. I want to meet the biggest amount of coaches and general managers and show them my personality. People tell me a I’m a likable guy. I want to show that to them, that I would be a great addition to their club. I hope I can hit the ball well tomorrow and that I have a strong enough leg to kick in this league.”
  • Steven Clark (Auburn): “The Aussie punt that I do, when I got the right with it, I actually learned that from [Thomas Morstead]. It’s kind of my own modification, but he definitely helped me as far as stuff like that. … It’s hard to hit a ball sideways with the air resistance and get it to go like that. He’s just a great punter, and I had to just figure out my own way to do it to where I could get the same result and sort of my own fashion.... Hopefully I can prove that I’m their guy. I definitely want to have a career in the NFL and that would be a huge blessing. Who doesn’t want to play? I feel like it’s a great game, and it’s a lot of fun doing what I do, and I’d love to do it the rest of my life. I’m going to ride it out until I can’t.”
  • Tom Hornsey (Memphis): “In every locker room you go, there’s going to be conflict. That’s just the nature of the game. It’s very competitive. It’s got a lot of testosterone flowing through. ... But it’s not a concern. I’m pretty laid back and just take it as it is.”
  • Richie Leone (Houston): “It’s a great experience. I’m just trying to take it all in. It’s really nice to be out here with the kickers and punters that are here. We all know each other pretty well. So we’re all comfortable with each other. We know it’s a business and we’re looking forward to (working out Friday).”
  • Cody Mandell (Alabama): "On the ground in Indy! Next part of my dream is here!"
  • Pat O'Donnell (Miami FL)
Long snapper
  • Marcus Heit (Kansas State)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

IFL 2014 - The Kickers

The Indoor Football League kicks off its 2014 season this weekend. In preparation, we take a look at the nine kickers.

Bemidji Axemen - Josiah Powell (St. Olaf College)

Cedar Rapids Titans - Rockne Belmonte (Northern Michigan)

Colorado Ice - Philip Welch (Wisconsin)
"The main reason I am Playing in the IFL for the Colorado Ice is it's in my hometown Fort Collins, CO. I got the opportunity to play for them last year for the last few games of their season. In the off season I focused on my training and kicking more than ever. It took about two years to get over my quad injury from my senior year and just lately I'm feeling better than I did before that injury. I'm finally able to focus on my kicking instead of focusing on my quad hurting. The ultimate goal is to kick in the NFL, but even if that never happens I feel fortunate to still be able to kick. Getting a real job after College really put things in perspective for me and has allowed me to appreciate the time I get to spend kicking a lot more than I did. I chose to play in the IFL instead of the AFL because there are a lot more field goal attempts in the IFL. My team will attempt a field goal on 4th down no matter where we are on the field, where as AFL kickers usually only kick short field goals. I am excited for the up and coming season. Indoor football is a crazy game, and their is hardly ever a dull moment."
Green Bay Blizzard - David Van Voris (Adams State) 

Nebraska Danger - Joe Houston (USC)

Sioux Falls Storm - Parker Douglass (South Dakota State)

Texas Revolution - Zeke Arevalo (St. Mary's College)

Tri-Cities Fever - Brady Beeson (St. Thomas)
"This off-season was great for me as I was able to finally get back to 100% healthy. I kicked most of last season injured, so it is great to get back to kicking like my old self. Besides that, being the Special Teams Coordinator at Apple Valley High School, and starting a new and improved training/kicking regimen were definitely highlights as well.
2014 will be a big season for myself, and more importantly the Tri-Cities Fever. We have a lot of veterans back, and very high expectations as a team. We've had an outstanding camp and I'm excited to be a part of this season. I'm very fortunate to still be doing what I love, and hopefully we can bring a title home."
Wyoming Cavalry - Jared Wood (Navy)
"I was picked up by the Cavalry a few months ago while I was living in Guam doing my time in the military in the Navy. I had just got off deployment a few months before my season out there started. I played for Pepsi and was the Pepsi kicker of the year (2011-2012) In 2013 Pepsi went undefeated, and made it to the championship game. A few of the 49er's actually came and showed up for a camp and I was called in to kick a 50 yarder into the wind that game and made it. They asked who I was, and I started looking into playing stateside. I sent in my film to Wyoming, and they tested me on different things and drills and liked me. I hit a long of 55 in a game and 65 at practice. I'm really excited about the season indoors, specially since its cold outside, i'm not used to the cold anymore, although I attended college at the University of Wyoming but I rode bulls at the time on the rodeo team. I just recently found out the Cedar Rapids kicker Rockne Belmonte is an officer in the army, so it should be a good battle of the armed forces with the kickers. Bringing back the rivalry of the Army Navy days."

Monday, February 17, 2014

CIFL 2014 - The Kickers

The Continental Indoor Football League was the first of the indoor leagues to kick off their regular season this year. Who is handling the kicking for the ten CIFL teams this year?

Bluegrass Warhorses - Doug Daniel (Northwood)

Chicago Blitz - Julie Harshbarger (Benedictine)
"We had our first game/home opener on 2/9/14. We lost to the Saginaw Sting 42-25. I was 3/3 on kicks. I’m very happy and excited for the opportunity to play in Chicago again! It has been 3 years for a Chicago team in the CIFL to host a home game. I’m looking forward to the rest of season. During the offseason, I play semi pro 11 v 11 for the Roscoe Rush (MSFL). I have been playing there for the last 10 years. This past May, I had an opportunity to workout with Coach Brian Jackson of Team Jackson Kicking. Team Jackson Kicking specializes in working with Kickers, Punters, and Long Snappers to develop successful players and help further their careers to the collegiate and professional levels. During my workout, I hit from 47, 45 and numerous kicks inside 40 yards."
Dayton Sharks - Ryan Mehaffie (Tecumseh HS)

Detroit Thunder - Musa Odeh (Wayne State)
"Football is my favorite thing to do. I work out all the time to stay in shape so I can keep playing it. I have a competitive nature. I'm the guy who goes out running in the winter dragging tires behind him in the snow."
Erie Explosion - Shon Rowser (Western Carolina)
"It was a great experience playing on the Erie Explosion football team last season as we made history by being one of only a handful of Indoor/Arena football teams to go undefeated. It was great to cap it off by winning the 2013 CIFL Title. Along with that I was able to have a great season kicking and was named First Team CIFL Kicker. In the off season my focus was on training and working on flexibility to lessen the chance of injury during the 2014 season. We are now underway winning the first game over Northern Kentucky and looking forward to making another run at a CIFL Title. My goal is to do whatever I can in the kicking game to help us move towards another championship. God has blessed me to kick for a long time and I'm thankful to him for that. And its a bonus to have the opportunity to play in Erie with great ownership, coaching and fans."
Kentucky Xtreme - Micah Canterbury (Harding)
“We have a family-type atmosphere that is one of a kind and that’s something very special and we have to cherish it. We want to make something special out of this and I would love to give something back to the city that has accepted me.”
Marion Blue Racers - Zach Miller

Northern Kentucky River Monsters - Dustin Zink (Thomas More College)

Port Huron Patriots - Logan Mitseff (Adrian College)
"This offseason for me was all about improving my fitness, both physically and mentally. After every workout I would take 15-20 minutes and visualize different kicks. I would visualize each step and focus on how a perfect kick should feel, look, and sound. The visualization really helped improve my technique which is very important in arena football.
As far as improving my physical fitness I focused on losing a little weight, improving my stamina, and becoming faster. While having a big leg is not as important for arena football, my ultimate aspirations lie in the NFL and there you do need to be able to kick the ball a long ways consistently. My leg workouts included squats, lunges, plyometric box jumps, sprints, weighted sprints, and hamstring work. I like to switch up my workouts and go heavy for a few weeks then go with lighter weights and a ton of reps.
So far only 1 week into the season I feel great physically, and the team appreciates my being in shape. A lot of times the kicker is looked at as this out of shape necessity. I want to break the mold, and be in the best shape I can be, not only to earn respect from my teammates but because it will only help as a place kicker."
Saginaw Sting - Connor Gagnon (Central Michigan)
"I had to 'retire' early. I just started at a different job."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Kicking the Wonderlic

Which THREE of the following words have similar meanings?
A) observable
B) manifest
C) hypothetical
D) indefinite
E) theoretical

The preceding question comes from the sample test for the Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test (formerly known as the Wonderlic Personnel Test). For those interested in taking a fifty-question sample test, you can do so here.

The Wonderlic annually gets lots of free media publicity around the time of the NFL Scouting Combine, where the test has been administered to NFL draft hopefuls since the 1970s. There is the usual ongoing debate regarding the value (or lack thereof) in using the test to assess pro football potential. Every few years it receives extra attention when the inevitably leaked scores reveal that one of the top stars scored especially low. And there is always the requisite mention of punter Pat McInally (Harvard) - the only player to ever score a perfect 50 on the 50 question, 12 minute test.

We conclude this post with a one-question, no-time-limit quiz. Which statement below did Pat McInally make regarding the Wonderlic test?

A) "So, for me, this Wonderlic thing has got to be the coolest of the cool. I waited six minutes... just to be cool about it, then sprinted through it. I'm sure if I had thought about it, I would have missed lots of them.... So that's my tip: Go as fast as you can and do it instinctively."

B) "It really did seem like an easy test at the time. One of the reasons I did so well is because I didn't think it mattered. So I think I didn't feel any pressure at all. It was more of a lark, and that's when you do your best. If I took it 100 times I'd probably never do that again. I didn't find out till years later that it hurt me in the draft."

C) "I always felt I was drafted in the fifth round instead of the first or second because I did too well on the tests. I wasn't your typical player and I did question a lot of things. It seemed kind of silly to me that we weren't allowed to drink [water] during practice, for instance."

D) "I've gotten to know Charlie Wonderlic after all of these years, and it is fun to work with him. One goal the company has is to keep kids eligible in high school and college. We're trying to get the Wonderlic to be part of the testing of athletes in high school for colleges. Wonderlic has a number of tests, one of which relates to how kids will do on the SAT, one about personality, etc. We test for a lot of things college coaches would want to know. It will be interesting to see how it evolves."

E) All of the above.

Friday, February 14, 2014

NFL Scouting Combine 2014: The Specialists

The specialists will be arriving in Indianapolis soon. The NFL draft eligible players are part of the first batch of participants in this year's Scouting Combine. The itinerary for the group, which also includes offensive lineman and tight ends, spans four days:
  • Wednesday 19th: Travel to Indianapolis, Registration, Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays, Orientation, Interviews
  • Thursday 20th: Measurements, Medical Examinations, Media, Interviews
  • Friday 21st: NFLPA Meeting, Psychological Testing, PK/ST Workout, Interviews
  • Saturday 22nd: Workout (timing, stations, skill drills), Departure from Indianapolis
  • Chris Boswell (Rice): Three-time C-USA Special Teams Player of the Week this year... Second player in Rice history to top 300 career points... Has kicked at least 11 field goals each season... Has at least one FG from 50 yards or more in each season... Tied for third on the C-USA career FG chart with 65
  • Anthony Fera (Texas): 2013 consensus All-American ... a two-time semifinalist the Lou Groza Award (2011 and 2013) … earned the 2013 College Football Performance Awards Specialist Trophy ... has connected on 36 of 43 field goals (83.7 percent) and is 88-for-91 on extra-point attempts during his career … has punted 185 times for 7,643 yards for an average of 41.3 yards, including 63 inside the 20 and 33 of 50-plus yards … has also kicked off 94 times for 6,242 yards (66.4 average) with 29 touchbacks
  • Zach Hocker (Arkansas): Hocker wrapped up his career holding school records for points and points by a kicker with 354, field goal percentage at 77.2 percent, PATs made with 171, PAT attempts with 173 and 61 made field goals. He also ranks sixth on the SEC's career PATs made list, seventh in PAT attempts, eighth in points scored and tied for 10th in field goals made. 
  • Cairo Santos (Tulane): 2012 was a breakout season for Santos as he went 26 of 27 on PATs (his only miss was blocked) and a perfect 21 of 21 on field goals including a school record 57-yard field goal. He became only the second kicker to make 20+ in a season without a miss. 12 of those field goals were from 40-plus yards and 2 from 50-plus and 31 of his 55 kickoffs went for touchbacks. Santos was named consensus All-American and received the Lou Groza Award.
  • Steven Clark (Auburn): Clark was good for Auburn all season, and especially clutch in the biggest games of the year. He averaged 42.5 yards per punt, but the eye-popping numbers were this: Clark saw his punts downed at the 1, 1, 2, 4, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9-yard line against Georgia, Alabama, in the SEC title game and the BCS Championship Game. Only five of his 70 punts were returned in 2012. Only five of 50 punts were returned in 2013. 
  • Tom Hornsey (Memphis): 2013 Ray Guy Award recipient ... Four-year starting punter who averaged 43.15 yards over his playing career ... Over his career had 34 games in which he averaged 40+ yards (minimum four punts per game) which was just off the NCAA record of 37 games ... Booted 73 punts of 50+ yards ... Had 13 punts of 60 yards or more including a career-long 79-yarder during senior season ... Placed 101 career punts inside opponents' 20-yard line (34 percent)
  • Richie Leone (Houston): named a Ray Guy Award semifinalist for the third straight year ... only the third player in UH history to lead the program in punting in four straight years ... closed his career second on the UH career punting average chart with a 43.1 average ...Houston's starting kicker for the first seven games of the season ... connected on all 32 of his extra point attempts and was 11-of-17 on field goals with a long of 40 yards
  • Cody Mandell (Alabama): First Team All-SEC for the 2013... Mandell averaged 47.1 yards per punt. Of his 39 punts, 15 of them pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line. Cody Mandell did a tremendous job handling the punting duties for the South in the Senior Bowl. Mandell had six punts for 271 yards (45.2 yards per punt). His longest punt was 60 yards and he had two punts that pinned the North inside its 20-yard line.
  • Pat O'Donnell (Miami FL): Played in all 13 games, handling kickoff and punting duties ... Also holder for field goal and point-after attempts ... Set Miami single-season record with 47.1 yards-per-punt average ... 23 kicks of 50+ yards ... Finished season with punt of 50+ yards in eight straight games ... Second-team All-America by USA TODAY Sports and third-team All-America by Athlon Sports ... Averaged 63.1 yards on 79 kickoff attempts ... Named Special Teams MVP at end-of-season team awards show
Long snapper
  • Marcus Heit (Kansas State): Heit, a three-year letterwinner, was true on all 363 combined punt and field goal snaps during his career. The Derby, Kan., native has already had a chance to show off his abilities to NFL teams as he participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., last month.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The 2014 "Off"-Season

With the Super Bowl just around the corner, it may seem like another football season is almost over, but there will still be plenty of football and consequently kicking in the so-called off-season. Note: events, names and dates will continue to be updated on the following lists as further information becomes available.

NCAA College football
All-Star Games: January 11th thru February 14th
National Signing Day: February 5th
Pro Days Workouts: primarily March
  • Beginning with Pittsburgh on March 3rd
  • Thru Georgia on April 16th
National Football League (NFL)
NFL Scouting Combine: February 19th - 25th
  • kickers: Chris Boswell (Rice), Anthony Fera (Texas), Zach Hocker (Arkansas) & Cairo Santos (Tulane)
  • punters: Steven Clark (Auburn), Tom Hornsey (Memphis), Richie Leone (Houston), Cody Mandell (Alabama) & Pat O'Donnell (Miami FL)
  • snappers: Marcus Heit (Kansas State)
Free agent signing period begins March 11th
  • UFA kickers: David Akers, Josh Brown, Dan Carpenter, Billy Cundiff, Phil Dawson, Jay Feely, Nick Folk, Graham Gano, Shayne Graham, Steven Hauschka, Rian Lindell, Adam Vinatieri
  • UFA punters: Donnie Jones, Pat McAfee, Mat McBriar, Zoltan Mesko
  • UFA snappers: Patrick Mannelly, Andrew Economos, Don Muhlbach, Greg Warren
NFL Draft: May 8th - 10th
Minicamps and OTAs: primarily May & June

Canadian Football League (CFL)
Free agent signing period begins February 11th
  • Kickers: Sean Whyte, Swayze Waters, Luca Congi
  • Punters: Ricky Schmitt, Mike Renaud
CFL Evaluation Camp, March 21-23
CFL Draft: May
Indoor Football Leagues
Round Ball (soccer, futbol, football)
  • Africa Cup of Nations: January 11th - February 1st
  • Copa Libertadores first stage: January 29th & February 5th
  • UEFA Champions League round of 16:February 18th - March 19th
  • MLS season opens: March 8th
  • Copa Libertadores second stage: February 12th - April 9th
  • CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals: March 10th-12th, 18th-20th 
  • UEFA Champions League quarterfinals: April 1st-2nd, 8th-9th
  • CONCACAF Champions League semifinals: April 1st-3rd, 8th-10th
  • NASL season opens: April 12th
  • NWSL season opens: mid-April
  • Copa Libertadores round of 16: April 16th, 23rd & 30th
  • UEFA Champions League semifinals: April 22nd-23rd, 29th-30th
  • CONCACAF Champions League finals: April 15th-17th, 22nd-24th
  • Copa Libertadores quarterfinals: May 7th & 14th
  • UEFA Champions League final: May 24th
  • World Cup begins: June 12th

Monday, February 10, 2014

Class of 2014 Kicker & Punter Recruiting, part 3

Our fourth annual look at the move from high school to college for specialists continues. 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 2014 the following two questions:
  1. What would you say was the most beneficial advice you received before going through the recruiting process?
  2. Is there one thing you learned during the recruiting process that you wish you had known beforehand?
Following is the final batch of answers:

Colin Downing, Iowa State
  1. Promote yourself go to as many camps as possible and connect with as many coaches before you even meet them face to face!
  2. One thing I learned is that recruiting is a game people are going to make you mad and lie to you but you cannot take stuff to the heart just because you get turned down by someone does not mean quit talking to them or stop looking into that school. Keep at it and don’t stop chasing your dreams if that specific school is really what you want. Also another piece of advice to young kids would be that the kicking coaches (Kohls,Sailor) have so much influence over certain schools you have to get to their camps and get noticed by for example Chris or Jamie if you want to get a college scholarship. 
Jake Hartbarger, Michigan State
  1. While you're in high school and your goal is to earn a scholarship, make the most of where you are playing and be humble during the process, be devoted to your hard work and team and everything else will fall in place.
  2. The process can be very stressful and at times will be frustrating. But the key is just to relax and make the most of it. 
Gary Wunderlich, Mississippi
  1. Be patient with the process. Kickers usually get offered last. Pierce Royster, Ohio 1. I didn't really get any advice.
  2. I wish I would have become a combo guy because the best combo guys earn the scholarships before the best kickers or punters.
Jesse Kelly
  1. Be patient. Kickers come last in the recruiting process.
  2. I wish I would have known that kickers don't get full rides very often. Mostly they get preferred walk-ons.
Josh Pollack, Arizona
  1. Be persistent in contacting and talking to these coaches and develop relationships with them.
  2. I wish I knew that everything doesn't happen at once and that you just need to be very patient.
Mick Ellis, Iowa
  1. Recruiting isn't a coach's job. It isn't based on how well you do in your season. Of course a coach can help. Of course your stats help. But recruiting is the athlete's job. It's a lot of work to get a scholarship. The athlete has to be the gas pedal on recruiting.
  2. It's stressful until the day you sign. A verbal commit isn't for sure. Just know going in that it's going to be stressful and it's going to be hard but all pain is durable when you know there is an end. And with recruiting there's definitely an end. Just keep pushing through it.
Shane Hynes, Kent State
  1. Well as a kicker it’s tough. I can remembering literally sending my film to every single D1 school I could find. Whether it was nearby schools or Hawaii. I think the best piece of advice I would give to any kicker that wants to play college football is, if you want to play, you can. You have to put in the time on and off the field and off the field of course I mean academics but i also mean recruiting. You have to call coaches offices and send them emails with new film constantly to let them know you are interested in their program. Another thing is, GET TO AS MANY COLLEGE CAMPS AS A JUNIOR AS YOU CAN. I think that’s one of the big things; you gotta get your face in front of the coaches and have them see you kick in person rather than film on YouTube and Hudl. Last thing, don’t be discouraged if you see your buddies getting offers. Recruiting a kicker isn’t the same as recruiting a QB or OL where they take on every year. YOU HAVE TO GO ON THE TEAM WEB PAGE AND SEE IF THEY HAVE A SENIOR OR JUNIOR KICKER if they have that, then the likelihood of them looking for someone is very high.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Class of 2014 Kicker & Punter Recruiting, part 2

Our fourth annual look at the move from high school to college for specialists continues. 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 2014 the following two questions:
  1. What would you say was the most beneficial advice you received before going through the recruiting process?
  2. Is there one thing you learned during the recruiting process that you wish you had known beforehand?
We received numerous responses, so this topic will span several posts. Following is the second of three batches of answers:

AJ Cole, North Carolina State
  1. The best advice I got is from my Dad. He told me to not commit to a school I wouldn't want to go to if football was gone. In other words if I got injured and football was taken away, I should be at a place where I would still be happy.
  2. One thing I wish I had known beforehand was how differently some colleges approach special teams. Some coaches really believe in special teams and its importance and other coaches really consider it a nuisance. It was just interesting to see which coaches believe in special teams and which were just running the camp because they felt like they had to. 
Zach Sinor, Oklahoma State
  1. The most beneficial advice I had received in my opinion was send your film as much as you can until they reply and say they aren't interested or yes I'm interested.
  2. Just knowing that there aren't very many specialist scholarships yearly and knowing which schools needed what.
Logan Cooke, Mississippi State
  1. Keep all of your options open.
  2. While building a relationship with coaches I learned that there is also a "business" side to this process. 
Austin McGehee, Purdue
  1. Be patient through it all. Although I was one of the first kickers offered it's very stressful not knowing where you will spend your next four years. So like anyone else it was hard for me to keep calm but my advice to all specialists is be patient and reach out to all types of schools.
  2. Don't think a school is going to offer you just because you've been on a visit. I thought I was destined to be a Razorback and God had other plans and I'm thankful he saved me from what I thought I wanted. 
James Sherman, Texas State
  1. It is a long process that will most definitely be worth it in the end.
  2. Treat every school like they are your favorite. Always reply to emails and take the mail they send you seriously. 
Tyler Newsome, Notre Dame 
  1. The most valuable thing I learned would definitely be that with hard work and faith in God you can do anything. Throughout the recruiting process I learned that in order to want something you have to want to achieve it even more than you want it. 
Cooper Mojsiejenko, Central Michigan
  1. Sit back relax and keep working hard. Every player has a path in the future.
  2. I would tell myself Relax and enjoy the ride because it is crazy and something awesome to look back at everything. 
AJ Wells, Middle Tennessee State
  1. The best advice I got during the recruiting process was definitely to enjoy it. As a specialist, no matter how good you are, it's very difficult to receive an offer. You can't let that goal be the focus of your joy. As you travel around the country, enjoy it, because each time you visit a new school, you're getting to see a whole new location in the world that you've never seen before, and that's just awesome! The offer will come, just relax and enjoy the sights.
  2. Now that recruiting is over for me, and I'm already enrolled at Middle Tennessee State, I wish I had realized during the process that it's not about what other people think. It's about what YOU think. It's not about the biggest school, it's about what school gives you the biggest smile. At the end of the day, when you're sitting in your dorm room all alone, and thinking about your life, you want to be able to relax on your bed, and smile to yourself knowing that despite what others may think, you made the perfect choice, and that you can't see yourself anywhere else but there.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Class of 2014 Kicker & Punter Recruiting, part 1

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 fourth 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 2014 the following two questions:
  1. What would you say was the most beneficial advice you received before going through the recruiting process?
  2. 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:

Mike Knoll, Boston College
  1. Never think you have an offer from a school before they actually give it to you. Also, recruiting is a business, most coaches think of it this way and so players should too.
  2. When I was a sophomore and the recruiting started, I was sometimes unsure about calling and contacting coaches. Knowing what I know now, I would tell kickers to not be afraid to start building relationships with coaches as early as possible. When it comes time they offer someone, they are more likely to offer the kicker they remember and most important like! Personality, grades and social skills play just almost as big of a role as purely talent. 
Alex Spence, Clemson
  1. You have to recruit yourself. Email as many schools as you can and don't be afraid to call a coach and try to set up an unofficial visit.
  2. BE PATIENT. I don't think I got a single reply to my emails, but when I started talking to the coaches in person on unofficial visits and at their camps they mentioned that they had received my email. 
Peter Deppe, Northern Illinois
  1. Try to make recruiting fun and not stress because if you’re good enough colleges will find you.
  2. I wish I would have known that college coaches like it when you call them and ask questions to show them that you are putting in the effort. I did this, but not enough. 
John Baron, San Diego State
  1. Just be patient. I didn't think anyone was going to offer anything and people would tell me to just be patient and they were right. Patience is key.
  2. I wish I would have started going to camps earlier and getting more exposure in the off season, it may cost some money but it eventually pays off... Literally. 
Michael Farkas, Cincinnati
  1. Start your junior and senior summer by attending as many college camps and national kicking camps as possible to get exposure.
  2. Understand it isn't easy being a specialist in the recruiting process. Lots of patience and positive attitude goes a long way! 
Rafael Gaglianone, Wisconsin
  1. Don’t take anything personal. There will be times were you will be competing with someone else for a scholarship and someone else might be a better fit for the school, so just keep your head up and don’t give up on the process.
  2. I wish they would have told me how there are so many places and not to focus in only one school. 
Mac Loudermilk, Central Florida
  1. The best advice I was given was from my dad and he told me, "just go out there have fun. Put the pressure on the other kids to make them play up to your abilities, and if you don’t get a certain school to offer you that's fine it wasn't meant to be, but you go out there and show them what they missed out on."
  2. Going to combines played a big part in the recruiting process. I definitely wish I had known that beforehand considering I only went to one and it was a steady rain that day. 
Kyle Bambard, North Carolina State
  1. The most beneficial advice I would say is be patient because it only takes one school and one phone call to change everything but you never know when that's gonna come! So until it does keep kicking at 100%!
  2. It's a true dog fight out there. Not all coaches are going to be straight up with you, they're going to tell you what you want to hear no matter what it is! I was fortunate enough that NC State was on my side the whole time but they were the only school who did exactly what they told me they were going to do! I wish I had known not to get my hopes up on any school until they actually offered.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Arena-Indoor Kicker Signings 2014

Recent (last several months) kicker signings in leagues that use those skinny goalposts...

AFL (Arena Football League)
Chicago Rush - Dan Frantz (Portland State)
Cleveland Gladiators - Aaron Pettrey (Ohio State)
Iowa Barnstormers - Jose Martinez (UTEP)
Jacksonville Shaks -Fabrizio Scaccia
LA Kiss - Kenny Spencer (North Alabama) 
New Orleans VooDoo - Taylor Russolino (Millsaps College)
Orlando Predators - Mark Lewis (Florida International)
Philadelphia Soul - Carlos Martinez (Buena Vista) 
Pittsburgh Power - Julian Rauch (Appalachian State)
San Antonio Talons - Garrett Lindholm (Tarleton State)
Tampa Bay Storm - Carlos Lopez (Middle Tennessee State)

IFL (Indoor Football League)
Bemidji Axemen - Josiah Powell (St. Olaf College)
Colorado Ice - Philip Welch (Wisconsin)
Sioux Falls Storm - Parker Douglass (South Dakota State)
Tri-Cities Fever - Brady Beeson (St. Thomas)
Wyoming Cavalry - Jared Wood

AIF (American Indoor Football)

PIFL (Professional Indoor Football League)
Alabama Hammers - Evan Selman (Winston Salem State)
Alabama Hammers - Armando Cuko (UMass)
Albany Panthers - Ryan Gates (Gardner-Webb)
Albany Panthers - Meredith Trout (Graceland)
Columbus Lions - Craig Camay (UT-Chattanooga)
Harrisburg Stampede - Cap Poklemba (Temple)
Lehigh Valley Steelhawks - Michael Barnard (Fairleigh Dickinson)
Richmond Raiders - T.C. Stevens (Hampden-Sydney)

LSFL (Lone Star Football League)
New Mexico Stars - Greg Rivara (New Mexico)
Rio Grande Valley Sol - Leo Araguz (Stephen F. Austin)

CIFL (Continental Indoor Football league)

CPIFL (Champions Professional Indoor Football League)
Lincoln Haymakers - Benny Hanaphy (York College)
Oklahoma Defenders - Thomas Frevert (Northwest Missouri State)
Sioux City Bandits - Nick Hope (Wayne State College)
Wichita Wild - Alex Fambrough (Bethany College)

XLIF (X-League Indoor Football)
Florida Marine Raiders - Jesus Cortez (Bethune-Cookman)
If you know of any other kicker signings for in any indoor league, please let us know!!!

Definitive Preview Guide to Super Bowl XLVIII

With Super Bowl XLVIII almost here, the media blitz has been in full force. For those that don't have the time to read, listen to, and watch the vast array of available information, Kickology provides you with the following essential pre-game information. Once you've read this, you will be fully prepared to enjoy the game.

Seattle Seahawks

Long snapper: Clint Gresham
  • In the beginning: "As a high schooler, Gresham wanted to play college football. His father had played at the University of Texas. Football was in his blood. His only problem was that he hadn’t figured out a way to compete at the next level. 'I was kind of a jack of all trades,' says Gresham, who acted as a bit of a Swiss Army Knife for W.B. Ray High School in Corpus Christi, TX. 'I played quarterback, tight end, tackle, guard, defensive end.'... Becoming a long snapper wasn’t necessarily something Gresham knew he’d stay with long-term. Really, how could he have possibly known? What 16-year-old star of his high school team wakes up one day and says, 'You know what, guys? Today, I am going to become a long snapper'? 'I was really just looking for a way to beef up my résumé,' he explains. 'I ordered this VHS tape and I just taught myself how to [snap] in the backyard'.”
  • The big game: "If it wasn't the week before the Super Bowl, I would shred so much asphalt with my rollerblades RIGHT NOW"
  • Beyond football: "Gresham’s first film-making project turned out so well that he wants to branch out.The Seattle Seahawks long snapper said this week that The Making of a Champion, a faith-based, 15-minute film featuring him, three teammates and two coaches, has spurned interest from other teams and other sports. 'I’ve been talking with other professional teams,' said Gresham, who played at TCU. 'I’ve been talking with some people with the Golden State Warriors, and a couple of teams in the Bay Area that want to do something similar to that'."
Punter & holder: Jon Ryan
  • In the beginning: "Ryan has come a long way from kicking a football around in Regina parks, but one thing hasn’t changed, his family will be there to cheer him on in Sunday’s Super Bowl. Barb Ryan said even when her son was little he tackled everything with a unique intensity and focus. Going back to when he was seven years old she still remembers how many hours he would spend at the park even after all the other kids went home. 'It was just Jon, the guy who never gets tired of what he’s interested in and he was just out there with a football so he’d kick it and kick it,' she laughed. 'He would kick it and try to catch his own punts so he got quite fast too'.”
  • The big game: "I was sitting in the Green Room (before Media Day) and I saw a Super Bowl sign,'' he said. "I thought, 'Is this real?' It's almost too much at times. It could be once in a lifetime, or once in however many lifetimes. I'm trying to take it all in.'' That has been his approach since Sunday, when the Seahawks arrived in New York. Today, however, the focus will change as the extraneous activities are reduced and the team zeroes in on preparing for the Broncos and the Super Bowl. "It has been crazy,'' Ryan said. "There has been a lot going on the last two or three days. It has been almost surreal. "I'm kind of looking forward to (today), when we get back to a normal schedule with practices and meetings. I knew there would be a lot of hoopla, but a lot of it is behind us now.''
  • Beyond football: "Ryan’s late father, Bob, died at age 54 from a rare bone cancer the same year Jon first joined the Packers, in 2006. Wheelchair-bound at the time, Bob Ryan was flown to Green Bay, along with his wife and daughter, in a private jet belonging to businessman/philanthropist Paul Hill, so that Ryan Sr. could see his son realize his NFL dream firsthand. The Jon Ryan Charity Golf Classic, held for the first last June at the Wascana Golf and Country Club in Regina, was established to create a legacy in his father’s name. The Bob Ryan Scholarship Foundation benefits both cancer care and Rams’ football."
Kicker: Steven Hauschka
  • In the beginning:  "I always remember being a good soccer player. I started playing soccer when I was two or three. We had those soccer nets, like the hockey goals were soccer nets. I remember being the goalkeeper and being able to shoot at the other goal from my goal. I kicked the ball pretty well from a young age.... "I kicked a couple footballs in eighth grade, just messing around once with my friends, but that was just one day only. I played soccer in high school and in my freshman year at college. Then I started kicking footballs, to try to win a position on the football team, the summer between my freshman and sophomore years."
  • The big game: “I’ve dreamed about kicking a game-winning field goal ever since I saw (Patriot kicker Adam) Vinatieri do it in the Snow Bowl,' Hauschka said about Vinatieri’s overtime effort through driving snow for a playoff win over the Raiders on New England’s way to their first Super Bowl title in 2002. 'He was my idol growing up. I had a signed photo picture of him up on my wall. I looked forward to that chance as soon as I started kicking. Never thought I’d be an NFL kicker until seven, eight years ago'.... Asked how he felt about the chance to hit a game-winning kick in the Super Bowl, Hauschka replied: 'It heightens your awareness, but at the same time you have to treat it the same as any kick in practice'.”
  • Beyond football: "If he travels in the offseason, it will be to anywhere where the surf's up. Hauschka loves to surf and says he's pretty good at it. While at Middlebury, there was a program in which he taught English to students in Costa Rica. He learned to surf in the beachfront town of Noscara, where the waves get as high as 10 to 12 feet. 'I'm not bad for only doing it a couple weeks a year,' he said. 'Once you get up, it's really rewarding'."
Denver Broncos

Long snapper: Aaron Brewer
  • In the beginning: "Brewer was expecting to concentrate solely on playing linebacker at Troy High School in Fullerton, Calif., when, during his freshman year, coaches said the team needed somebody to snap for placements (extra points and field goals) and punts. 'We lined up and everybody tried it,' Brewer recalled. 'Everybody had a shot at doing it, and I was the best one at it.' That led to a scholarship at San Diego State and a college free-agent (undrafted) contract with the Broncos."
  • The big game: Colorado's highest mountains are getting new names in honor of the Super Bowl — at least temporarily. Colorado boasts 53 "14ers." peaks that rise above 14,000 feet (4,267 meters). Colorado's Super Bowl-bound football team, the Denver Broncos, boasts a roster of 53 active players. Putting two and two together, Governor John Hickenlooper announced today (Jan. 29) that on Super Bowl Sunday, each of Colorado's 14ers will go by the name of a Broncos player.... Kit Carson Peak gets named after long snapper Aaron Brewer, because 'his long snaps find their path just as Kit Carson found paths through the frontier'."
  • Beyond football: "An 11-year-old Staten Island boy and Denver Broncos fan is going to have a ball on Super Bowl Sunday. Or more specifically, little Seth Patsakos already got that ball — signed by every Bronco — and a huge thrill last week, as a gift from Denver long snapper Aaron Brewer. Seth suffers from hemophilia and has to receive painful IV medication at least once a month to fight the condition that prevents his blood from properly clotting."
Punter & holder: Britton Colquitt
  • In the beginning: "When it comes to punting, Denver’s Britton Colquitt was born to boot the football.Colquitt’s father, Craig, won two Super Bowl rings while punting for the Pittsburgh Steelers during a seven-year NFL career. His uncle, Jimmy, punted for Seattle in 1985, and his older brother, Dustin, is currently Kansas City’s punter. 'It’s really crazy,' said Britton, in his fifth season with the Broncos. 'When you grow up around it, that’s what you know. All I see is Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl stuff on the wall. It was kind of normal to me. In my mind, and even in Dustin’s mind, it was always attainable and was kind of the norm. If you look at other families in the NFL, their kids play and they’re successful. It’s a belief that they have. It’s like any other family business and that’s ours. I am thankful for it'."
  • The big game: "Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt kind-of, sort-of, maybe, definitely will be wearing some type of Broncos gear for the Super Bowl this weekend. 'I don’t know if you should quote me on that,' says Britton Colquitt, Dustin’s younger brother and the Broncos’ punter. 'But he said he would, to support me'.... Britton clarified that someone in the family was in charge of finding Dustin a sort of incognito Broncos flash. Like, maybe a hat where the Super Bowl is the main focus but there’s a Broncos logo on the side or something. 'Find him in the stands,' Britton says. 'I don’t think Kansas City nation would blame him. I mean, he’s my brother'."

    Read more here:
  • Beyond football: "In the future I’d like to start my own foundation. I haven’t set it up yet; it’s still in the thought process. I would say the main focus would definitely involve kids because I know these children are going to grow up and be adults someday. I want it to be more of a spiritual thing as well. If you don’t have faith, you don’t have hope, and I want to give children hope. I’m not totally sure what angle to take, but we’re going to do something. If we can give kids a life similar to Nash’s or at least some kind of excitement, we will be successful."
Kicker: Matt Prater
  • In the beginning: "Like many NFL kickers, Matt Prater developed his kicking skills by taking to the soccer field as a youngster.Unlike most, Prater was encouraged to trade in shin guards and soccer cleats for a helmet and shoulder pads through a tight bond with a pair of well-known NFL kickers. During his adolescent days, Prater played on a competitive soccer team in Fort Myers, Fla. It was there that he became friends with teammate Santiago Gramatica -- younger brother of NFL mainstays Bill and Martin Gramatica. That friendship led to frequent family get-togethers at the Gramatica family ranch in LaBelle, Fla. Those times included competitive games of backyard soccer when Martin would come home from college at Kansas State. It also lent itself to Prater's first experience kicking through uprights."
  • The big game: "When Matt Prater was a little boy, he did not pretend that he was an NFL player facing the do-or-die kick at the end of a Super Bowl. 'I never did that kind of stuff growing up,' the Denver Broncos kicker said. 'I guess I was a weird kid. I didn’t even want to be a kicker growing up; I wanted to play baseball.' As things turned out, Prater grew up to be a kicker. And even though he never pretended it, come Sunday he actually might face a game-deciding kick when his Denver Broncos face the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. The thought does not faze him, although it is not his first choice. 'I’m hoping we win by about 10 or something, where it doesn’t come down to a kick,' he said. 'But if it does come down to a kick, I’ll be ready for it. I don’t mind those kicks. I actually like doing those'.”

    Read more here:
  • Beyond football: "If you look behind the scenes, in Prater's locker, you might be surprised to spot three figurines. All of them, hawk statues. 'A lot of the guys on the team know that I'm into hawks,' said Prater. His fascination with red tail hawks is routed in family history. 'On my Dad's side, I have some Native America Cherokee,' Prater said. 'Back when I was in high school, my Dad looked up the totem and mine happened to be the red tail hawk. When I see a red tail hawk or my Dad or one of my family members see it, they always think it's going to be a good day for us,' Prater said. The tattoo some football fans have spotted on Prater's arm is even a red tail hawk feather."