Often this vitally important aspect of the program is an after-thought. This position can virtually be placed anywhere in your roster building after quarterback. These young men have more pressure, scorn, ridicule, and lack of respect directed towards them that in a moment of a single contact of foot to ball, can turn them into heroes. More than any position on your roster, they are taken for granted and are expected to be 100% each time they trot onto the field.
The “talking heads” continue to make comments when a kicker or punter is drafted in the fourth round or higher and will be the first to comment if a team plays a game and is consistently losing the field position battle or a missed extra point or field goal is the difference in the score of the game.
Many programs recruit these players as “walk-ons” with the promise that if they win the competition in camp or spring ball, scholarship funding will be made available. A pro player struggles in a game or two and the next thing that happens is competition is brought in and the player has to compete during the course of the week. They can be the most under-coached or over-coached players in the program. Yet always, they are expected to be perfect when called upon. After-all, it’s all they have to do, right?
Extenuate the positive with these men. Build them up and let them know that you believe in them. They NEVER mean to miss a kick or shank a punt…NEVER…so show them you care and empathise. Send your recruiters and scouts out on the road with these tools in mind and find the right:
HANDS Type: soft, stiff, eye/hand coördination, extends hands to the snap or body catch, adjust to bad snap, is punter the holder for PAT/FG
GET-OFF PUNTER – 2 or 3 step, distance covered/time, snap = 0.8 seconds or less, tough to toe = 1.4 seconds or less, launch = 2.2 seconds or less KICKER – 1.3 seconds or less on snap, pin, to contact
LEG STRENGTH Distance, explosion into the ball
HANG TIME Height of ball on punts and kick-offs (check for cover patterns on tape to determine hang time, ie. on kick-off cover the team should be across the 30 yard line when the ball is caught by the returner)
HANDLE WIND Against wind, with wind, cross wind, can he “drive” the football
ACCURACY Leg control, placement, field goal percentage for kickers
PRESSURE Game intensity, rush, bad snap (hand and adjust to kick), general demeanor, composure
TACKLE Cover ability, courage, willingness to be the last line of defense
RUN/PASS Bonus, check high school positions played, athletic ability, other sports played
PRODUCTION Statistics, opportunities, does he get the job done, consistency
MECHANICS Smooth and fluid, consistent, athletic, flexibility, extension, plant foot, drop
NOTE: Soccer style or straight on conventional (the last conventional kicker drafted in the NFL was my good friend and fellow coach Manny Matsakis by the Philadelphia Eagles), shoe or barefoot (am I dating myself?), right or left footed
Leg Strength, Accuracy, Distance, Production