Either you love them or you hate them, but regardless, they are a vital part to any football team. Ask Oregon State University, or Louisiana State University or the University of Florida how one kick changed their entire seasons. All three schools – and countless others – have lost games this season solely on the woes of their kicking game.
Of the Rattlers’ five remaining opponents, only Virginia Tech’s Brandon Pace and Florida Atlantic’s Mark Myers have yet to miss an extra point or chip shot field goal (anything inside 35 yards) this season. Ironically enough, the Hokies and Owls figure to be the two toughest opponents on the Rattlers murderous 2004 schedule.
Even FAMU’s trio of kickers: Paul Johnson, Jessie Hartley and Wesley Taylor, have succumb to the frustration of missing an extra point, combined with having converted on eight of 12 attempts.
To anyone wondering why I would spend an entire column on kickers, I have an insiders view on the intricacies of making – and missing – an extra point, or two.
Kicking a football is not easy, no matter what any coach or person in the stands wants to say, kicking a football is an art form, when done correctly. With maybe the exception of a closer in baseball, no other position in all of sport requires as much mental toughness as a place-kicker. But before anyone questions my kicking expertise, or lack thereof, I was a kicker in high school and a walk-on at FAMU who can still nail a 50 -yard field goal.
“All you have to do is kick the ball straight.” If I was given a nickel every time I heard that, well you know how the rest of the cliche goes. But in order for a kick to have a snowball’s chance in hell at going straight, the snap and the hold must be perfect. A bad snap or hold can mess up everything.
One missed field goal or extra point, in my case, can ruin the psyche of the best kicker.
Sounds easy huh? If only it was. Most soccer players don’t have the leg strength to hit a field goal from even 40 yards. This is where I started my warm-ups, let alone 60 yards- something myself and Johnson have done repeatedly, in practice. Although it may sound far-fetched to a person watching someone hit a 60-yard field goal, it is a common place on practice fields around the country.
Yet with all the supposed inconsistency of kickers in college football extra points are being made at a 95.2 percent clip at the I-A level and 90.8 percent on the I-AA level.
Of the 26 Division I conferences only kickers in the MEAC, are not making 80 percent of their extra points.
But no matter how many articles, columns, or features are written on kickers and their journey to respect in locker rooms across America, unless you are New England Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri, the late Rodney Dangerfield might as well have been talking about kickers in his infamous one-liner.
They get no respect.
Will Brown is junior broadcast journalism student from Rockledge. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.