Early in a kickers career, all of their friends constantly hype them up saying how they are going to make it to the NFL, or some big-time school. While that may not be wrong, often times, kickers become so emotionally involved with a school that if for any reason, that dream does not become a reality, it leaves them with few options. That is why kickers must have multiple options available for if the result did not go according to plan, there is still other options. This post will highlight what a kicker should look for when deciding a school to go to.
What School Has The Highest Priority?
Deciding on a school is no easy task. That might be why most kickers underestimate the intensity of school selection. Often times, a kicker can let their ego get in the way of where they really need to go.
For example, a kicker might be deciding between the big school names; Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Ohio State, and Clemson. When in reality, they might be better off sticking to the schools that fit them more. A great kicker that goes to a big school, while it might be fun, It might not be the school that is needed for them.
Knowing that a school has a poor kicking statistics, either does not have a good kicker, or a coach. Either way, a team with little to no idea how to improve their kickers is a bad place to be for a future kicker. This means that just based on the past 5 years or so, Alabama has not recruited incredible high-quality talent.
The reason for this could be a few things, the team is so good, the kickers never need to kick field goals. The recruiters are not doing a good enough job, or the kickers just get complacent knowing that their team will most likely win anyway whether they miss or not. Therefore, a better job must be done on all ends when a kicker might potentially go to a big school.
What Happens When a Kicker Goes To a Big School
The big thing that typically happens when a kicker goes to a big name school is they spend 2+ seasons without any playing time. Eventually, they spend the remainder of their seasons with little to no full time playing experience. They may limit themselves to one specific kick. (kickoff, punt, or field goal) Then, when they play, they are already so behind on their experience that they must absolutely ball out in order to make an impression.
Often times, a kicker feels as if they deserve to go to a school that does not align with their future only for the name. By going to a team because they are well known, that sets that kicker up for future disappointment. Becoming so focused on one school almost always leads to being upset. Having options on where to go to school can become a huge tool for the future success of a kicker.
The main purpose of many kickers is to make a lasting impression on a team and go to the next level. How does that get done when they do not play? A smart approach to this would be attending a smaller school.
What Happens When a Kicker Goes to a Smaller School
Smaller schools often get a bad reputation for having not enough money, gear, fun experiences outside of the field, etc. While a portion of that may be true, there are many misconceptions that must be addressed. The teams with the most money are of course FBS teams. Therefore, more competition is present for those teams.
It depends on the talent level and if that player needs to even consider that team. Then, as one goes from division to division, the money available becomes less and less present. Eventually, Division III schools do not give out full athletic scholarships, only academic scholarships. That being said, most, if not all kickers imagine going to a big name school when they are in high school.
The flaw in this reasoning is, why would you go to a school without a scholarship, pay tens of thousands of dollars, just to not play? For the experience? Go to a smaller school to get an incredible experience, get playing time, and get a scholarship for it!
What Happens When a Kicker Goes to a Smaller School Continued
Do not focus on the idea that you deserve to only go to a big school. The moment you think that you are letting your ego get in the way. A true assessment needs to be done in order to see where your talent is. If the kicker is hitting 60-yard kickoffs with a 3.75 hang time, that is perfectly acceptable for a D1 – AA or D2 school.
Likewise, if the kicker hits 40-45 yard field goals against the wind consistently, they are fit for D1-AA, or a D2 school. The best fit for a kicker is where they feel like they can compete at a high level and not have to give up playing time.
Since we only get 4 years of playing time in college, why go and not play for 2 years? Go to the school with a major that fits, a good team, one that is willing to take a chance on you, and one that you can see yourself there for the next few years.
Standards For a Championship Team
Championship teams are made by the coaches which then inspire the players to inspire each other. There are only so many coaches and quadruple or more the amount of players. Therefore, the players need to be bought into the process of the team. The reason Alabama performs at such a high level is that Nick Saban places so much responsibility on them to perform as adults.
He understands they are kids that make mistakes. However, he does not let his ego get in the way of his teaching style. The truly successful coaches take an interest in the well being of their players and expect their very best. Now when a kicker decides on a school, that does not mean they have to choose the one with the best record.
They might want to look at the year of the starting kicker. If they are a senior or graduating, that Is the best position. If it comes down to the best team with a sophomore, junior, and freshman kicker for one team. Or another team with 2 juniors and 2 seniors, realistically, the 2nd team would be the better choice in terms of long term growth.
A championship team decides that all members on a team come together for the betterment of the team. When a player goes to a championship-caliber team, they will be challenged, they will be tested, and they will have to heavily compete for a position.
Competition breeds success. However, if there is too much competition, that means there are few opportunities to shine. Eventually, with time, that player may actually prove themselves to be a top-notch kicker. But how much time would that take? All of these questions must become known when deciding to go to a good school.
What a Good School Looks For
A good school looks for, you guessed it, good players. And those players may be found through many different sources. one of the biggest being high schools. Many successful schools would like to take a player that just graduated high school, is full of energy, and ready to compete for a spot.
These players are some times more attractive than a junior college, “Underrated”, or “Undrafted” player. The junior college player almost always meshes well with any team. Then there are the exceptions, the ones who are so good at their school they feel like a king at the new school.
This becomes even more present at the high school graduates. They have not realized what it takes to compete for a starting job at the next level. Therefore, they believe whatever they do is the best thing since sliced bread.
When deciding to go to a new school, remaining humble and true to the kicker’s character will become a huge advantage to their success. Therefore, understanding how much talent the kicker truly has become an essential tool to gauging the amount of effort required to reach new levels.
Only a championship team can help that kicker the best way possible. It is up to the player to be accepting enough to allow the learning to happen.
Schools That Are a Good Fit
Each and every kicker has a school or team out there that could use their talents for the betterment of the team. One of the fastest ways to get on coaches or teams radar is by simply producing in the season. Perform and show the teams that that kickers skills match with what talent that team is looking for. For example, a team in an FBS division look for kickers with the strongest, most consistent legs out there.
Kicking camps are one such way to discover where that kicker ranks against other kickers. While many coaches love to grab kickers based on their rankings, they only prove so much. A ranking might get their foot in the door but might fail in getting that kicker much more than that. It happens often, a kicker with a great ranking goes to a big school to either not play, or leave the school because they did not match with the talent requirement of that team.
Schools that are the best fit for the kicker come down to where they are academically, then athletically. Kickers usually approach a school the wrong way, they decide on a school only for their athletic achievements and not their academic ones. The method for deciding a school needs to be academics first, then the athletic achievements.
While it may seem like common sense, most players make the mistake of going to a school because of the name and then spend $40,000 a semester practicing nursing when they are actually really good with computers. While this may be an exaggeration, people do something very similar to this from time to time.
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A great school for a kicker most likely has a proven track record of professional, or accomplished kickers. There are many methods a school may develop their kickers. For most, they just do repetition after repetition in practice. Another would be they find drills a kicker would do which is definitely a big stretch for a school to do. Another way to develop a kicker into the one that their school deserves is with a kicking coach.
A proper Kicking Coach transforms a pretty good kicker into a phenomenal one. This is a rare method for a school to develop its kickers but it would only benefit the team and their offense/defense if they did. As a result, more teams should definitely look into getting additional sources of help for their teams to improve the kicking situation.
Take the New York Jets for example. They recently released Kaare Vedvik, who has shown definite promise in the NFL. However, the Jets gave him one shot to prove himself and he did not, so they released him. That being said, including Vedvik, the Jets have now released 3 kickers in a 4 week period.
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Teams like the Jets usually have these moments when their kickers struggle. Instead of waiving them, it might be a better idea to hire a kicking coach to handle these issues. That way, when the kicking issues arise in the future, the kicking coach acquires and solves the problems. Instead of assuming the kicker needs to, “figure it out.” a team should start to look for alternative ways to improve their kicking game.
Most teams have multiple coaches for one position. Therefore, it only makes sense to add a kicking coach to the team as well. That way, the team saves money on consistently releasing and signing kickers. They simply sign a kicking coach to the team. Eventually, they hope that the coach can help the kickers enough for them to give the many game-winning kicks.
The same goes for schools. The kicking coach will help that team improve their kicking situation, therefore winning more games and potentially, more bonuses. With proper Drills (involving Ball Contact in many situations), Consistency mindsets, Stretching routines, and approach to the game of football, the kicker should improve. It all comes full circle. The main point, for now, is to get kickers to understand the importance of selecting a proper school.
With time, teams will understand their kickers better. However, the kicker needs to go where his or her needs are met academically and athletically. If you enjoyed reading this article, please share this so we can continue to grow! Also, if you have any suggestions for what we should write about next, let us know!
Thanks for reading and stay amazing!