Coming out of high school in 2002 I was ranked the number one kicker in the country by Rivals and Parade Magazine. I didn’t attend a single combine or scholarship camp. Those types of camps weren’t available at the time and the emphasis on recruiting kickers wasn’t there either. Recruiting kickers and punters has changed in the past 10-15 years and mainly for the better. Even with the improvements in the evaluation of kickers in college there are still flaws in the system.
After my junior year of high school I made a highlight tape of my season. I made sure it was around 3-5 minutes and had my best field goals and kickoffs on it. Fortunately I had some great highlights. Rudy Kalis of Channel 4 news in Nashville came to my game vs. Henry County that year and got some of my best kicks on the news. I put that news clip at the beginning of my highlight tape and it caught people’s attention. I sent this tape out to every Division I college in the country and I got some very favorable responses. Tulane offered me directly after seeing the tape and after a few months I had offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, Purdue, MTSU, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee. Not one of those schools had seen me kick in person except for Tennessee. This is how recruiting use to be.
College coaches were trying to evaluate VHS tapes to discover their next star kicker. Highlights put on a video were suppose to encapsulate a kickers career. Coaches were making mistakes and then they were swearing that they would never offer a kicker again. A few years later though they would need another kicker and they would go back to the VHS tape. This evaluation process was severely flawed but I fortunately benefited greatly from it.
Now coaches go to the “experts” to evaluate kickers. They let a “kicking coach” who has evaluated the kicker at a combine or camp assist them heavily with their decision. Some of these kicking coaches are better than others but college coaches don’t know the difference. They will just say “I took the advice of one of those kicking guys”. The evaluation system is better than it was but it isn’t perfect. One main thing that has been devalued is the high school season. Right now your high school season doesn’t matter that much to recruiters. They would prefer that you do well but your performance at a showcase and a college camp is much more important. This is a tricky situation.
Kickers need to learn technique from private kicking coaches. I do kicking camps in Nashville and kicking camps in Knoxville to develop kickers technique for competition. You may have the best technique in the world but you also need to test your skills in places of competition. High School games are the best place to replicate pressure. You have to perform in front of your teammates, coaches, and family in the stands. Some guys thrive at this and others crumble. Evaluation of your high school season is very important. It shows how you react when the bullets are flying. I simulate this sort of pressure at my Nashville Saturday Night Lights Camp every year. I try to put people in competitive and adverse situations to see how they respond. You never know a person until you see them react under adversity or pressure. These types of opportunities offer you the conditions to respond to pressure.
Recruiting is changing and evolving. I find it interesting that before a college coach offers a quarterback they go watch the guy throw in person, evaluate him in camp, talk to the high school coach, attend a game, and watch his game film. Not that every coach isn’t that detailed when offering a kicker or punter but I believe that too many college coaches evaluate a kicker by his camp performance. I wonder how recruiting kickers will change in the next 10-15 years?