the study of the kicking components within sports

Friday, March 28, 2014

Draft Preview: Cade Foster

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Alabama's Cade Foster. He ranks in the top ten in several of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Foster's profile page on the Crimson Tides' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • took over the full-time kicking duties
  • hit a career-long 53-yarder against Ole Miss
  • after Iron Bowl, received a letter of support from an unlikely source, former President George W. Bush
2012 Junior Season
  • shared the field goal kicking duties (with Jeremy Shelley) while serving primary role on kickoffs
  • kicked off 92 times for 5,837 yards and 42 touchbacks
  • Michigan: Drilled a career-long 51-yard field goal in win against the No. 8-ranked Wolverines
  • Western Kentucky: Named one of the specialists of the week by the Alabama coaching staff, after three of his six kickoffs went for touchbacks ... also assisted on one tackle on special teams
  • Arkansas: Named one of the specialists of the week by the Alabama coaching staff ... connected on his second 51-yard field goal of the season (1-for-2 in the game) ... kicked off nine times for 580 yards and eight touchbacks.  
  • Florida Atlantic: Named one of the specialists of the week for the second consecutive week by the Alabama coaching staff ... 2-for-2 on field goals, including a career-long 52-yarder ... kicked off nine times for 580 yards, with six touchbacks. 
2011 Sophomore Season
  • starting kicker on kickoffs and place-kicker on longer field goal opportunities
  • averaged 63.3 yards on 81 kickoffs
  • Vanderbilt: Was named the Special Teams Player of the Week by the Alabama coaching staff ... recorded five kickoffs for 316 yards ... averaged 63.2 per kick
  • Tennessee: Was named one of the Special Teams Players of the Week by the Alabama coaching staff ... connected on his first field goal of the season when he hit from 45 yards in the win against the Volunteers ... kicked off eight times, recording one touchback and averaging 65.4 per kick
  • LSU (BCS National Championship Game): Kicked off six times for a 66.7 yard average, allowing the coverage team to limit the Tigers to 20.8 yards per return ... his net yards per kickoff was a solid 45.8
2010 Freshman Season
  • played in all 13 games as a true freshman as a placekicker and kickoff specialist
  • made nine tackles on kick coverage and forced a fumble
  • averaged 65.2 yards on kickoffs (84 for 5,476 yards)
  • San Jose State: Was named one of the Special Teams Players of the Week by the Alabama coaching staff ... was a perfect 2 for 2 in field goal attempts in his first collegiate game with a long of 41 yards ... connected on both extra point attempts ... averaged 67 yards with a touchback on kickoffs.  
  • South Carolina: Was named one of the Special Teams Players of the Week by the Alabama coaching staff ... kicked off five times and tallied a season-best two touchbacks while averaging a season-best 69.2 yards on kickoffs ... assisted on one tackle on kickoff coverage.  
  • Mississippi: Was named one of the Special Teams Players of the Week by the Alabama coaching staff ... connected on two field goals, including a long of 49 yards ... kicked off five times and tallied one touchback. 
High School
  • played in the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Game
  • a four-star prospect by Scout.com and its No. 3-rated kicker in the 2010 class
  • a first-team APSE Class 5A All-State in 2009 and first-team TOC Class 5A DFW All-Area Team
  • was 10-for-10 on field goal attempts in 2009, including three kicks of 45 yards or longer
  • career long of 49 yards came on Sept. 27, 2009, against North Shore High School
  • made 57-of-58 extra point attempts as a senior for the Dragons
  • also started at middle linebacker and finished with 106 tackles, including six tackles for loss and six sacks
  • made 6-of-8 field goals as a junior in 2008 ... hit on 11-of-15 kicks as both a freshman (2006) and a sophomore (2007)


College Stats:
2013: 12 of 17 (70.6%) FGs; 60 of 60 PATs; 96 points
2012: 4 of 9 (44.4%) FGs; 0 of 0 PATs; 12 points
2011: 2 of 9 (22.2%) FGs; 0 of 0 PATs; 6 points
2010: 7 of 9 (77.8%) FGs; 7 of 7 PATs; 28 points

Back in January, Foster looked over his college experience:
"I told coach Saban when we talked about it this week. I thanked him for the opportunity to play here. I'm always going to love this state. I'm always going to support the football team. It's been the best four years of my life. I learned more lessons and gotten more friends from this than I think I would have gotten anywhere else."

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Draft Preview: Matt Yoklic

Among the punters eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Pittsburgh's Matt Yoklic. He ranks in the top ten in several of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Yoklic's profile page on the Panthers' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • had 19 total punts downed inside the 20 and 19 punts of 50-plus yards on the year
  • averaged a career-best 54.3 yards on three punts vs. Florida State
  • had four punts downed inside the 20 (two downed inside the 10) vs. Old Dominion
  • holder on placements for the third consecutive season
  • All-ACC Academic Team selection
2012 Junior Season
  • placed 19 punts inside the 20
  • averaged a season and career-best 48.3 yards on six punts vs. Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl
  • in the final regular-season game at USF, averaged 45.4 yards on five punts and had a career-long 62-yarder; placed three punts inside the 15, including two at the USF two-yard line
  • named to the Big East All-Academic Football Team for the third time
2011 Sophomore Season
  • placed 21 punts inside the 20-yard line for the year
  • over the final six regular-season contests, Yoklic placed 18 punts inside the 20
  • also served as Pitt's primary holder on placements
  • named to the Big East All-Academic Football Team for the second consecutive season
2010 Freshman Season
  • Did not play in any games
High School
  • An All-Quad North punter at Pine-Richland High
  • averaged 39.45 yards per punt (1,578 yards on 40 punts) as a senior with five downed inside the 20
  • earned two letters...also a two-year letterman in baseball


College Stats:
2013: 70 punts, 43.0 yard average, long of 57 yards
2012: 61 punts, 41.8 yard average, long of 62 yards
2011: 62 punts, 41.2 yard average, long of 58 yards

During spring practice of his junior season, Yoklic discussed the work behind punting:
"Fundamentals and technique are incredibly important. You have to work on those every day. Also, we've changed our punt scheme this year where we'll be doing more directional punting. I've been working on my angle punting to the sidelines so our gunners can make plays."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Draft Preview: Carey Spear

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Vanderbilt's Carey Spear. He ranks in the top ten in several of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Spear's profile page on the Commodores' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • One of only three players in team history named as three-time team captain
  • became first Vanderbilt player ever included on Allstate-American Football Coaches Association Good Works squad
  • Contributed two field goals and a TD-saving kick return tackle in 41-24 victory over Houston in BBVA Compass Bowl
  • Capped regular season by kicking 38-yard FG in closing seconds to clinch comeback win over Wake Forest... The three-FG performance against Wake Forest earned Spear SEC co-Special Teams Player of the Week honors
  • 54-yarder at South Carolina was career long and tied for third longest in team history
  • Greatly improved his distance on kickoffs - 46 of 66 kicks resulted in touchbacks... Also contributed three tackles on kickoff coverage.
2012 Junior Season
  • Second Team All-SEC (AP)
  • His 20 made field goals sets a new single-season team record
  • was perfect inside 43 yards on the season, hitting 14-of-14 field goals
  • Kicked a career-long 52 yard field goal in regular season finale victory at Wake Forest to become the first Commodore to kick a 50-plus yard field goal since Bryant Hahnfeldt in 2006... Then added a 50-yard field goal later in the Wake game
  • Twice named as a SEC Special Teams Player of the Week
  • Had a total of 63 kickoffs for 3,847 yards (61.1 average per kick) and 22 touchbacks
  • Also known for his big hits on kickoff returns, as he has tallied three tackles on the season
2011 Sophomore Season
  • Spear was 'Dores' placekicker duties for first eight games and served as kickoff specialist throughout the season
  • Kicked off 64 times witht ten touchbacks
  • The exuberant kicker made 11 special teams tackles, including nine solo stops, many of which were spectacular collisions
2010 Freshman Season
  • One of 13 true freshmen to see action, Spear served as the team's primary kickoff specialist for the season
  • Nearly 40 percent of Spear's kicks were not returned by opposing teams... Spear's ability to kick high and deep limited opposing returners to a 20.7-yard average
  • Also credited with a pair of coverage tackles.
High School
  • Four-year letterwinner... Three-year starter as kicker, also started at punter as senior
  • Ranked among nation's leading kickers by several services
  • As senior, hit 13 of 21 FGs, including state-record tying 61-yarder, as senior; 45 of 66 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks... Made seven FGs of 45 yards or longer in 2009
  • As junior, hit 14 of 20 FGs, with long of 51 yards
  • 39-yard punting average as senior
  • Two-time first team All-State; MaxPreps second team All-American as senior
  • Four-year soccer letter winner, earning second team All-State honors as senior


College Stats:
2013: 15 of 19 (78.9%) FGs; 48 of 48 PATs; 93 points
2012: 20 of 24 (83.3%) FGs; 27 of 27 PATs; 87 points
2011: 4 of 7 (57.1%) FGs; 26 of 27 PATs; 38 points

Last September, Spear discussed his college career and possible future pro career:
“(Playing football) has been a blessing since the first day I got on campus. Vanderbilt has shaped me into a better student, better athlete and a better person. I owe so much to my teammates and coaches, teachers and friends; I would not be the same person without them....

Obviously [playing in NFL] would be a blessing — a dream come true, but I’m just focused on this season and doing what I can to help the team.”

Monday, March 24, 2014

Draft Preview: Bobby Wenzig

Among the punters eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Alabama State's Bobby Wenzig. He ranks in the top ten in several of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Wenzig's news on the Hornets' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • named to Football Championship Series (FCS) All-America Third Team by The Sports Network
  • named First team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) team
  • had 24 of his punts downed inside the 20 yard line and another 24 of his punts traveled over 50 yards
  • completed his career at ASU with 208 punts for 8,977 yards, both team records.  He also finished his career with a 43.2 yards per kick average which is second in team history.
  • was also the kicker for ASU and finished with 201 points becoming only the fourth person in ASU history to finish his career with over 200 points
2012 Junior Season
  • two-time All-SWAC recipient, earned first-team honors this season
  • named to the Sports Network, AFCA, AP FCS All-America teams, and the HBCU All-America and College Sporting News HBCU All-America team
  • led the SWAC and ranked third in the nation in punting, posting career highs in punting average (45.6 yards), punts of at least 50 yards (20), and punts downed inside the 20 (24)
  • six-time SWAC Special Teams Player of the Week winner and a one-time National Special Teams Player of the Week honoree
  • also had one rush for 14 yards leading to game-winning touchdown at Grambling State
  • In six games, averaged at least 46 yards per punt, including two contests where he posted a game average of at least 50 yards per attempt
  • Also the Hornets' place kicker in scoring 62 points
  • had at least one 50+ yard punt in nine of 11 games last season
2011 Sophomore Season
  • booted 17 punts of 50+ yards with a long of 69 yards, and had 20 punts downed inside the 20-yard line
2009 Freshman Season (Arizona State)
  • True freshman had a very strong season filling in for injured starter Thomas Weber
  • Appeared in six games...made 3-of-4 field goals and 10-of-12 extra point attempts
  • averaged 57.5 yards on 28 kick-offs with one touchback
High School
  • lettered in football two years and track and field for one year
  • earned Second Team All-State for kicking, All-CIF and All-Valley League Kicker of the Year
  • high school stats include 12 for 15 FG's made, 55 touchbacks and 41-yard punting long
  • had the longest kickoff in high school football in the nation with over 80 yards
  • lists his most exciting sports moments as making a 47, 48, 49, and 50-yard FG in his senior season


College Stats:
2013: 72 punts, 42.9 yard average, long of 67 yards
2012: 61 punts, 45.6 yard average, long of 67 yards
2011: 71 punts, 40.2 yard average, long of 69 yards

Last August, Wenzig discussed having worked with two former NFL punters that hail from Austalia:
"My dad (Bernard) actually got the ball rolling in working with Darren Bennett. He found out that Coach Bennett was building a base in the San Diego area as far as coaching punters and contacted him about working with me. We called him up and he said he'd be glad to help me out. I started punting with him over spring break.  Bennett, along with some other NFL punters, held a huge group session for college players to get our punting and coaching down. Being able to compare myself to the other guys there was a great experience....

Over the past few weeks, I had the chance to work a lot with Mat [McBriar] and Darren, they both said I've shown that I have the potential to get to the NFL. One of the most important things I've learned in all of this is that I'm economical when it comes to punting movements.  The more you can simplify things and not to think so much, the more punting becomes second nature and the more consistent you'll become."

Friday, March 21, 2014

Draft Preview: Andrew Furney

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Washington State's Andrew Furney. He ranks in the top ten in several of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Furney's profile page on the Cougars' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • All PAC-12 Honorable Mention (Coaches)
  • 7-of-8 from inside 40 yards and 7-of-9 from 40-49 yards. 
  • Furney hit the game-winner from 41 yards to help the Cougars beat No. 25 USC for the first time since 2002 and he later recorded three makes in each of the wins over California and Utah
  • He owns the third-most makes (46) in school history, the third-most 50+ yard kicks (4) and second highest field goal percentage (76.6, 46-60) in school history
2012 Junior Season
  • named All-Pac-12 second team
  • hit 60-yard field goal, second longest in Pac-12 and WSU history, as time expired in first half against Eastern Washington
  • hit all three field goal attempts in Apple Cup win over Washington, made from 21 and 45 yards before kicking game-winner from 27 yards in overtime...named Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week following the Apple Cup victory
2011 Sophomore Season
  • posted the best field goal percentage (.875) in WSU single-season history
  • was 7-for-7 on attempts 30 yards or more including 5-for-5 from 40+ yards
  • was 2-for-2 including a season-long 51-yarder in the season opener against Idaho State
  • was a perfect 4-for-4 in field goals at UCLA, connecting from 21, 26, 21 and 47
  • was 2-for-2 in the snow against Utah, including game-tying 17-yarder as time expired to send game into overtime
  • named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award
2010 Freshman Season
  • earned starting role for final three games of season
  • was two-for three against California, making field goals of 51 and 48 yards
High School
  • Sophomore & junior years named Associated Press All-State First Team (2A)
  • Senior year tied the state record for most made field goals with 14 (20 attempts), including eight of 40-plus yards and a season-long of 47...went a perfect 44-of-44 on PATs...also recorded 17 touchbacks on 59 kickoffs
  • his 33 career field goals set the all-time state record
  • also punted for Burlington-Edison.


College Stats:
2013: 16 of 20 (80.0%) FGs; 49 of 50 PATs; 97 points
2012: 14 of 20 (70.0%) FGs; 25 of 26 PATs; 67 points
2011: 14 of 16 (87.5%) FGs; 39 of 41 PATs; 81 points
2010: 3 of 5 (60.0%) FGs; 18 of 18 PATs; 27 points

Last October, Furney discussed the beginnings of his kicking career in high school and heading into college:
"My first field goal attempt ever I hit a 42-yarder. In high school, it was like 'oh my gosh....

I wanted to go to the Pac-12 and play against the big teams and in the huge stadiums. In my eyes, that's college football.... I had so many people tell me that I wasn't good enough. It made me want to go to the biggest stage I could and prove everyone wrong....

I remember it was really cool because we were out there and at first there was just one of the graduate assistants. And then I started kicking. It was funny because he would get on his phone and call someone else down to watch and by halfway through the workout, the whole staff was down there."

AFL Kickers 2014 - National Conference

Earlier this week we checked in on the American Conference half of the kickers in this year's Arena Football League. That leave's us with the six kickers in the National Conference:

Arizona Rattlers - Craig Ratanamorn (Marshall)
  • 2012: Connected on 7-of-9 extra points in one game with the Arizona Rattlers
  • College: Served as the primary placekicker for the Thundering Herd in 2008 and 2009
LA Kiss - Kenny Spencer (North Alabama)
  • 2013: Connected on 82-of-95 PAT tries and 2-of-7 field goals splitting time between the Spokane Shock and New Orleans VooDoo 
  • 2012: Set a League record with 138 converted extra points as a rookie with the Spokane Shock... Named AFL Kicker of the Year...  
  • College: Converted on 63-of-66 PAT and finished 12-of-17 on field goals as a senior
San Antonio Talons - Garrett Lindholm (Tarleton State)
  • Lindholm (5-8, 190, Tarleton State) earned First Team All-Arena and AFL Kicker of the Year honors last season after setting AFL records with 158 extra point conversions and 167 PAT attempts as a member of the ArenaBowl champion Arizona Rattlers
  • The third-year pro broke into the League with the Milwaukee Mustangs in 2011, connecting on 82-of-98 extra point tries and 20-of-32 field goals as a rookie
  • As a college senior in 2009, Lindholm converted on a 64-yard field goal against Texas A&M-Kingsville
San Jose Sabercats -  Nich Pertuit (University of Incarnate Word)
  • 2013 XP: 122/137; FGM: 3/5
  • 2012 Assigned to the SaberCats on 4/4
  • 2011 Appeared in ten games for the Iowa Barnstormers, converting 53-64 extra points (83%) and 6-11 field goals
  • 2009-10 Spent two seasons with the Abilene Ruff Riders of the Southern Indoor Football League (SIFL)
Spokane Shock - Taylor Rowan (Western Illinois)
  • 2013: 10 games played, converted 81 of 95 PAT attempts and 1 of 2 field goal attempts…104 total kickoffs for 5,707 yards (54.9 average) with 37 touchbacks
  •  Rowan began his AFL career with the Shock during the 2010 AFL season, Spokane’s inaugural season after making the jump from the af2 ranks in 2009. As a member of the Shock’s Championship team in 2010, Rowan connected on 5 of 5 field goal attempts and converted on 121 of 134 PATs (90.3%).
  • Returning to Spokane in 2011, Rowan connected on 6 of 9 FG attempts and converted on 118 of 138 PATs (85.5%).
Portland Thunder - Michael Braunstein (Washington, Ohio)
  • As a member of the IFL’s Tri-Cities Fever in 2009, he set the league record for most field goals in a season with 16.
  • At the University of Washington he graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in business administration while making the Pac-10 All-Academic team from 2004-2006.
  • At the University of Ohio, Braunstein earned first team All-Mid-American Conference honors and was a Lou Groza Award semi-finalist. He earned a Master’s degree in sports administration.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Draft Preview: Brian Schmiedebusch

Among the punters eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Bowling Green's Brian Schmiedebusch. He ranks in the top ten in several of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Schmiedebusch's profile page on the Falcons' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • In voting by Bowling Green's fans, Schmiedebusch earned the Iron Workers 55 Ironman of the Game award for the first time after his performance against Pittsburgh in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
  • named a candidate for the 2013 Ray Guy Award
  • Week 12 MAC East Division Special Teams Player of the Week: Schmiedebusch punted four times and averaged 43.0 yards per punt in a 49-0 win over Ohio on Nov. 12. He downed two punts inside the Bobcats' 20-yard line
2012 Junior Season
  • Second-Team All-MAC
  • had 18 punts travel 50-plus yards, while 24 punts were downed inside the 20
  • also ran the ball one time for eight yards on a fake punt at Florida, gaining a first down.
2011 Sophomore Season
  • First-Team All-MAC
  • named a semi-finalist for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation's top punter
  • added 19 kicks of over 50 yards and 18 were downed inside the opponent’s 20
  • had three punts over 70 yards, including an 81, 73 and 76 yard punt versus Idaho, Northern Illinois and Buffalo
  • averaged 55.8 yards per punt in his first game as a Falcon versus Idaho 
  • had at least one 50-yard punt in 10 of 12 games, and downed one punt inside the opponent’s 20 in 11 of 12 contests.
2010 Freshman Season (at Findlay)
  • averaged 41.2 yards per punt
  • earned first-team All-GLIAC
  • named second-team All-American.
High School
  • 2009 graduate of Ottawa-Glandorf High School
  • named to the Lima News Dream Team his senior year earned first-team all-state in 2009 ... that same season earned first-team All-WBL as a linebacker
  • also lettered in basketball, where he team won the Division III State Championship in 2008


College Stats:
2013: 49 punts, 41.3 yard average, long of 67 yards
2012: 72 punts, 40.8 yard average, long of 60 yards
2011: 57 punts, 45.3 yard average, long of 81 yards

Last November, Schmiedebusch discussed his senior season and his future goals:
"It’s awesome. Our offense is moving the ball this year. Most of them (his punts) have come inside the 50, so that means we’re moving the ball down the field, and putting points up on the board. The less I have to punt, that means the more games we’re winning; so I’m loving it....

That’s been my dream for my whole life, just to make it to the NFL. I’ve been working my butt off since I was little."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Draft Preview: Vincenzo D'Amato

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is California's Vincenzo D'Amato. He ranks in the top ten in several of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from D'Amato's profile page on the Golden Bears' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • Earned spots on All-Pac-12 teams selected by the league’s coaches (second team), Athlon (third team) and Phil Steele (third team)
  • National semifinalist for Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award as nation’s top placekicker
  • Made all 14 of his attempts from inside 45 yards as well as his first six overall
  • Career-high 20 touchbacks on 57 kickoffs and 3,339 total yards for a 58.6 average
  • Had 12 points in the season opener against Northwestern to earn Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the lone time in his career and also honorable mention CFPA National Placekicker of the Week recognition, connecting on all three field goals and three extra points, while also throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Bouza on a fake field goal on Cal’s first drive of the season in his only career passing attempt
  • Registered a season-high 13 points against Portland State in the second game of the season and Cal’s lone win, making 3-of-4 field goals and all four of his extra points to earn CFPA National Placekicker of the Week honors for the second game in a row
  • Had a career-high-tying four touchbacks on a season-high eight kickoffs against Portland State, while posting at least two touchbacks on eight occasions
2012 Junior Season
  • One of Cal’s two first-team All-Pac-12 selections selected by the coaches and its only one returning for 2013, while Phil Steele gave him a second-team nod
  • Made 11 consecutive field goals at one point during the campaign
  • Kicked off 59 times for 3,570 yards and a career-high 60.5 yard average with 18 touchbacks
  • Scored a career-high 14 points that ranked tied for second among Pac-12 kickers during the season against Southern Utah when he connected on a Pac-12 season-high-tying and career-high-tying three field goals by making all of three of his attempts while adding five extra points
  • made his only attempt over 50 yards when he nailed a career-long 52-yarder at Washington State

2011  Redshirted

2010 Sophomore Season
  • Played in one game, kicking off for 51 yards on the team’s second to last kickoff vs. Colorado
2009 Freshman Season
  • Shared placekicking duties for much of the season with Giorgio Tavecchio
  • Booted a season-long 47-yard field goal at Oregon
  • Made both of his field goal attempts in the Big Game at Stanford, connecting for Cal’s first points late in the opening quarter to start a winning rally that brought Cal back from a 14-0 deficit and the Golden Bears’ last points with 2:42 remaining in the contest for the final 34-28 margin
  • Had one touchback and averaged 59.7 yards per kickoff on 11 attempts
High School
  • Earned first-team All-County honors, Special Teams MVP of the Sea View League and All-State recognition from Cal-Hi Sports and MaxPreps as a 2008 senior when he booted 13 field goals (including five from 40 yards or more) and 30 extra points while putting 94 percent of his kickoffs into the end zone
  • Had a season-long field goal of 48 yards during his senior campaign
  • Made 17 field goals and all 33 of his PATs as a 2007 junior


College Stats:
2013: 17 of 20 (85.0%) FGs; 31 of 32 PATs; 82 points
2012: 16 of 23 (69.6%) FGs; 30 of 33 PATs; 78 points

2009: 7 of 12 (58.3%) FGs; 31 of 31 PATs; 52 points

Last February, as spring training got under way, D'Amato discussed heading into his final year of college:
"The other day I was thinking about I finished my last 6 a.m. spring workout at the collegiate level. It was a strange, bittersweet feeling. Talking to the other coaches about it, they all told me to enjoy every second of this year. It's weird to think that this is the last year. As a freshman, I envisioned a much quicker process - do this, graduate, get a life, move on. It's been so fast and now it's my last year and you start thinking, what's going to happen next? What does the future hold for me? It's important for me to focus on what's happening now and enjoy every second."

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

AFL Kickers 2014 - American Conference


Another season of Arena football kicked off this past weekend. As always, we check in on the ever important kicking game. This year the American Conference includes eight teams, and hence eight kickers:

Cleveland Gladiators - Aaron Pettrey (Ohio State)  
  • Enters third season with the Cleveland Gladiators
  • Converted on 45-59 extra points and 4-12 field goals during the 2013 season
  • Appeared in 11 games with Cleveland in 2012 before being reassigned on June 17... Made 2-6 attempted field goals
  • Played in two games with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010 (2-4 on field goals)
  • Played the 2011 season with the Las Vegas Locomotives (UFL)
Jacksonville Sharks - Fabrizio Scaccia
  • 2013: appeared in nine games with the Iowa Barnstormers. Connected on 53 of 57 extra-point attempts (93%), hitting one of five field goals 
  • Joined the Philadelphia Soul for the 2012 postseason, knocking home 14 of his 16 extra-point attempts during the Soul's run to ArenaBowl XXV
  • 2011 Earned Second Team All-Arena honors in his second season with the Arizona Rattlers, hitting 101 of 113 extra-point attempts (89.4%) and two field goals… Connected on a career-best 57-yard field goal 
  • 2010 Made AFL debut with the Rattlers, hitting 93.2% of his extra point attempts (69 for 74) 
  • played for parts of three seasons in the United Football League with the Sacramento Mountain Lions… Hit 22 of his 31 field goal attempts during his time in the UFL
Iowa Barnstormers - Jose Martinez (UTEP)
  • Martinez enters his third season in the AFL and his first in Iowa
  • As a member of the Chicago Rush in 2013, Martinez converted on 90.2 percent of his PAT tries, drilling 119-of-132 extra points on the year
  • As a rookie with the Milwaukee Mustangs in 2012, Martinez connected on 56-of-64 PAT attempts and 6-of-12 field goal tries
New Orleans VooDoo - Taylor Russolino (Millsaps College)
  • Assigned to the VooDoo on February 7th, begins AFL career 
  • 2013 Marion Blue Racers (CIFL)...Kicked 48 yard field goal against Kentucky Extreme (Longest in League History) 
  • 4 year starter at Kicker for the Millsaps Majors football team...Scored a Millsaps record 260 points in his career
Orlando Predators - Mark Lewis (Florida International) 
  • 2013: Converted on 116-of-134 extra points and 3-of-6 field goals for Orlando
  • 2012: Converted on 87-of-96 extra points and 11-of-23 field goals for Orlando
  • 2011: Converted on 118-of-134 extra points and 3-of-8 field goals for Orlando
  • 2010 Dallas Vigilantes, 2008 Columbus Destroyers
  • 2007: Named Kicker of the Year and First-Team All-Arena... Was perfect on extra points, converting on all 110 tries with the Austin Wranglers... Connected on 15-of-25 field goals
  • 2006 Columbus Destroyers, 2005 Las Vegas Gladiators, 2004 Detroit Fury
Philadelphia Soul - Carlos Martinez (Buena Vista)  
  • AFL Experience:  Georgia Force (2011-2012) AFL Napa Kicker of the Year and First Team All-Arena (2011), Orlando Predators (2010) Second Team All-Arena, Georgia Force (2007-2008), Dallas Desperados (2004-2006) 
  • Other Pro Experience:  UFL Florida Tuskers (2010), AIFA Columbus Lions (2009) Kicker of the Year, NFL Kansas City Chiefs (2009) worked out and Veterans Mini-Camp, NFL Dallas Cowboys (2006-2007) practice squad, NFL Atlanta Falcons (2006) pre-season camp, NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2004), NFL Philadelphia Eagles (2003), AF2 Fresno Frenzy (2002).
Pittsburgh Power - Julian Rauch (Appalachian State)
  • played collegiately for Appalachian State where during his senior season he kicked a 24-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining in regulation to give Appalachian State a 34-32 victory over the No. 2 ranked Michigan Wolverines in the Big House
  • spent time on the practice squad for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers before coming to the Power in 2013
  • During his rookie AFL season, Rauch connected on 58-of-72 PAT attempts. His longest field goal made was from 19 yards.
Tampa Bay Storm - Carlos Lopez (Middle Tennessee State) 
  • Began his collegiate career at Carson-Newman University before transferring to Middle Tennessee State University 
  • MTSU 2012: Played in 12 games for the Blue Raiders… converted 17-of-22 field goals and 36-of-36 PATs
  • Carson-Newman 2011: Made 4-of-6 field goals and connected on 35-of-37 extra point attempts…Averaged 53.6 yards on kickoffs…2009: Earned Second Team All-SAC honors…Connected on 10-of-11 field goals finishing third in the conference…Made 67-of-69 extra point attempts to lead the league…2008: Made 1-of-4 field goals and 22-of-24 extra points.

Draft Preview: Tyler Campbell

Among the punters eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Mississippi's Tyler Campbell. He ranks in the top ten in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Campbell's profile page on the Rebels' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • Ended his career with the second-best punting average in school history (44.6), trailing only Merle Hapes (46.0)
  • Finished with 10,075 career punting yards, third-most in school history
  • vs. Southeast Missouri (9/7/13): Punted twice for an average of 52.0 yards, with both landing inside the 20, and received CFPA National Punter of the Week honorable mention
  • at Texas (9/14/13): Punted three times for a 55.0 average, including a career-long boot of 75 yards
  • at #1 Alabama (9/28/13): Punted six times for a 44.0 average with three inside the 20
  • vs. Arkansas (11/9/13): Three punts for a 46.7-yard average with one inside the 20, and made the tackle on one punt
  • Music City Bowl vs. Georgia Tech (12/30/13): Punted five times for an average of 42.4 yards with two inside the 20 and a long of 68
2012 Season
  • Did not see action and was redshirted
2011 Junior Season
  • All-SEC honorable mention (Associated Press)
  • second in the league with 28 punts downed inside the 20
  • vs. BYU (9/3): Booted four punts for an average of 56.8 yards, including a career-long punt of 73 yards and one inside the 20
  • at Vanderbilt (9/17): Punted six times for an average of 44.5 yards, including a long of 62 and three pinned inside the 20
  • vs. Georgia (9/24): Tied a career high with nine punts for a 50.8 average, downing three inside the 20
  • at Mississippi State (11/26): Averaged 47.8 yards on six punts, downing three inside the 20
2010 Sophomore Season
  • NCAA punting champion with a 46.37-yard average, becoming the 19th NCAA statistical individual champion in Ole Miss history
  • Named All-SEC second team by the Associated Press 
  • Booted 19 punts over 50 yards and five punts of 60 or more yards, including a season-long kick of 69 yards at LSU
  • at Tulane (9/11): Punted four times for an average of 46.0, including a 60-yarder ... One punt inside the 20
  • vs. Kentucky (10/2): Punted a career-high eight times for a 43.2-yard average and a long of 58 yards ... Also posted two solo tackles on special teams
  • at Alabama (10/16): Booted eight punts for a career-high 383 yards (47.9 average) with a long of 58 yards ... Two punts inside the 20
  • at Arkansas (10/23): Punted six times for an average of 51.8, with a season-best 66-yarder
  • at Tennessee (11/13): Punted seven times for an average of 48.4 yards with four inside the 20 and one touchback
  • vs. Mississippi State (11/27): Tied a career high with eight punts for 47.2-yard average ... Booted a long of 62 and downed two punts inside the 20
2009 Freshman Season
  • Named SEC All-Freshman by the SEC Coaches 
  • No. 2 punter in the SEC and No. 12 in the NCAA (43.95 ypp)
  • Booted nine punts of 50-plus yards ... Pinned 13 punts inside the 20-yard line
  • vs. Alabama (10/10): Recorded five punts for a 45.6 yard average and a career long of 71 yards, the longest by a Rebel since 2001
  • Cotton Bowl vs. Oklahoma State (1/2): Punted five times with an average of 47.0 ypp and a long of 51
High School
  • A PrepStar All-Region selection
  • Named to the Associated Press Arkansas Super Team 
  • Named to the Arkansas Coaches' Association All-Star team 
  • Averaged 39.7 yards per punt as a senior and 53.0 yards per punt as a junior


College Stats:
2013: 51 punts, 44.4 yard average, long of 75 yards
2011: 72 punts, 43.6 yard average, long of 73 yards
2010: 60 punts, 46.4 yard average, long of 69 yards
2009: 43 punts, 44.0 yard average, long of 71 yards

Two summers ago, Campbell discussed the beginnings of his punting career:
“I started playing in seventh grade. Every little boy wants to play football, and seventh grade is when my school started so I just started playing.... Actually in seventh grade I was a running back. It just so happened we all lined up and I kicked the ball the furthest, so I became the punter that way. In high school I also played linebacker and punted. I realized punting would be my best option to pursue a career. I wasn’t going to go anywhere playing linebacker, and I just realized that punting would be my best option."

Monday, March 17, 2014

LSFL 2014 - The Kickers

The Lone Star Football League 2014 season kicked off this past weekend. Following are the kickers for this year's five teams.

Amarillo Venom - Jose Chavez
To the best of our knowledge, Chavez is a local product who kicked in high school in Amarillo.
New Mexico Stars - Greg Rivara (New Mexico)
"Rivara is the former punter for the University of New Mexico Lobos. He began his Lobo football career as a walk-on kicker. During his time at UNM, he worked his way up to become the team’s main kicker. In the 2012 season, Rivara had the highest average in the Mountain West. He was also ranked 9th in NCAA Division I football nationally; kicking off 63 times, with an average of 63.6 yards per kick. 'Greg had a good career at UNM and we’re happy to have him on our team.  He is a quality kicker and individual, which is exactly what we need for the New Mexico Stars,' Coach Bramante said."
Rio Grande Valley Sol - Leo Araguz (Stephen F. Austin)
"Leo J.  Araguz is a Rio Grande Valley native and the son of Francisco and Aurora Quiroz. He attended Stephen F. Austin State University. While in college, Leo was a four-year letterman and a three-time All-Southland Conference selection. As a junior, he led the Southland Conference in average yards per punt with an average of 42.6 yards per punt. In 1996, he made his NFL debut by joining the Oakland Raiders.  He holds the distinction of having the most punts in an NFL game, with 16."
San Angelo Bandits - Art Arteaga
Kicked for Central High in San Angelo.
West Texas Wildcatters -???

Friday, March 14, 2014

Draft Preview: Nate Freese

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Boston College's Nate Freese. He ranks in the top ten in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Freese's profile page on the Eagles' website [LINK]:

2013 Senior Season
  • ranks first on the school's career scoring list (317 points)
  • named to the AT&T ESPN All-American first team and the Football Writers' Association of America All-American second team
  • earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team honors from the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association and second-team honors from the ACC Coaches
  • one of only two kickers in the FBS with a perfect field goal percentage and more than 10 field goals attempted
  • one of just seven kickers in the FBS to handle kickoffs, punts and place kicking
  • averaged 42 yards per punt and downed 20 punts inside the opponents' 20 ... kicked a career-long 67-yard punt against NC State
  • tied his career best with a 52-yard field goal as time expired to lift BC to a 29-26 win over Maryland (Nov. 23)
2012 Junior Season
  • recorded 17 touchbacks over 52 kickoffs
  • attempted six punts; pinning five inside the 20 
  • a perfect 16-for-16 on field goals under 40-yards
2011 Sophomore Season
  • was successful on 5-of-7 field goal attempts from 40 or more yards
  • recorded a season-long 52-yard field goal in the team's 27-19 home loss to Wake Forest (Oct. 1); connected on all four field goal attempts (32, 36, 45, 52) against the Demon Deacons 
2010 Freshman Season
  • earned collegefootballnews.com Freshman All-America honors
  • became the first BC kicker to hit four field goals in two different games in the same season; did so at Florida State (Oct. 16) and against Kent State (Sept. 11) 
High School
  • Earned Associated Press All-Ohio Division I first-team honors as a senior kicker at Strongsville
  • also served as the team's punter
  • earned the Cleveland Touchdown Club Charities 2008 High School Special Teams Players Award
  • was a two-time All-Conference selection
  • converted 10-of-14 field-goal attempts in his senior season; also converted all 49 extra-point tries...his career long field goal was 53 yards
  • more than 80 percent of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks
  • selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic (June 20, 2009 in Hersheypark (PA) Stadium).


College Stats:
2013: 20 of 20 (100%) FGs; 40 of 41 PATs; 100 points
2012: 18 of 20 (90.0%) FGs; 24 of 24 PATs; 78 points
2011: 10 of 16 (62.5%) FGs; 26 of 27 PATs; 56 points
2010: 22 of 25 (88.0%) FGs; 24 of 25 PATs; 90 points

Freese discussed his game winner against Maryland last November:
“Yeah, it was my first game-winner. I never had one in high school, either. Yeah, it was the first ever....

“I look at it as it being just as important a kick in the first quarter as it is at the end of the game. I kind of approach them all the same way. I just try to stay calm in that situation. I tried not to make it bigger than what it was. Obviously, I realized what time in the game it was, and stuff like that, but I was just trying to stay as calm as I could.’’

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Draft Preview: Richie Leone

Among the punters eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Houston's Richie Leone. He ranks in the top five in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Leone's profile page on the Cougars' website:

2013 Senior Season
  • Second team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America
  • named a Ray Guy Award semifinalist for the third straight year
  • one of two players to be named Ray Guy Award Player of the Week on two occasions
  • only the third player in UH history to lead the program in punting in four straight years ... 
  • ranked third nationally as 34 of his 73 landed inside the 20 (46.6 percent) while pinning 14 (19.2 percent) inside the 10-yard line
  • led Houston to a No. 3 national ranking in net punting at 41.4 yards per punt
  • had just three touchbacks on the year ... had 16 punts over 50 yards, including four over 60 yards ... forced opponents to call for a fair catch 34 times (46.6 percent)
  • also the team's kickoff specialist, sending 37 of his 78 kickoffs (47.4 percent) out for touchbacks ... averaged 63.5 yards per kickoff
  • 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
2012 Junior Season
  • Named first team All-Conference USA
  • led Conference USA and tied a Houston single-season record with an average punt of 45.5 yards
  • led the conference with 20 punts over 50 yards including four over 60 yards
  • hit a career-long 77-yard punt against Louisiana Tech
  • placed 18 of his 60 punts inside the 20-yard line including nine inside the 10-yard line ... just 21 punts were returned with opponents calling for 24 fair catches and just six touchbacks on the year
  • also handled kickoff duties with 25 touchbacks on 71 kickoffs
2011 Sophomore Season
  • Honorable Mention All-Conference USA
  • Semifinalist for the Ray Guy National Punter of the Year Award
  • Had 12 punts of 50+ yards and 15 punts caught/downed inside the 20
2010 Freshman Season
  • Played in all 12 games
  • Handled all punting duties and kickoff duties
High School
  • No. 16 punter by Rivals.com at Roswell High
  • Named to the Class 5A All-Decade Team by Georgia High School Football Daily
  • Selected to the Class 5A First-Team All-State by Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • GACA North-South All-Star Football Classic participant
  • Four-year varsity player 
  • Averaged 46.4 yards per punt as a senior and 42.3 yards per punt as a junior


College Stats:
2013: 73 punts, 43.2 yard average, long of 65 yards
2012: 60 punts, 45.5 yard average, long of 77 yards
2011: 51 punts, 41.2 yard average, long of 63 yards
2010: 35 punts, 41.4 yard average, long of 63 yards

At the NFL Scouting Combine last month, Leone discussed sevral stages of his kicking career:
“When I was in 8th grade, I was winning kicking competitions with only high schoolers and I was the youngest kid there. It was kind of a moment in my life where I chose the kicking route....

It’s a dream; it’s something as a kid you watch on TV and competing, although I would have to look up the kicking stats on line. I’m really enjoying the moment right now and sharing it back with my family as they’ve been calling me non-stop....

I’ve been to a couple of Texans games, one this past year and when he played for the Raiders. My dad and I got tickets just so we can watch Lechler warm up so I can emulate him a little bit.”