ACC All Access: Virginia Tech's new kicker is Eric Kristensen - and he didn't come from an aisle in Wal-mart

Virginia Tech has a new kicker, and it's a guy defensive coordinator Bud Foster thought Tech might've picked up off "an aisle at Wal-mart or Kroger."

With senior Cody Journell no longer on Tech's roster, Eric Kristensen, a true freshman walk-on from Ann Arbor, Mich., will handle extra point attempts and field goal attempts under 43 yards Saturday when Tech hosts Maryland (5-4 overall, 1-4 ACC). Junior Michael Branthover will attempt field goals of 43 yards or longer.

Journell was dismissed from the team this week due to yet another violation of team rules. He finished his career 44 of 58 (76 percent) on field goal attempts.

Branthover has never attempted a field goal in a college game, but he has kicked off and punted. He's kicked off 15 times this season, with three touchbacks. Last season, he had eight touchbacks while kicking off in four games. In 2011, he played in six games and averaged 36.6 yards per punt.

Kristensen is still getting to know his teammates and Tech's coaching staff, as evidenced by Foster's reaction after Wednesday practice. Foster said:

"I think we must've picked him up, I think, in an aisle at Wal-mart or Kroger," Foster said.

"I don't even know his name. I'm sorry."

Foster said the kicker in question was wearing jersey No. 1 during Wednesday's practice. Tech sports information director Dave Smith identified the kicker as Kristensen.

Kristensen made the team after impressing coach Frank Beamer on Sept. 4 during student try-outs. Kristensen was added Sept. 24 to the roster. He'll be the 11th true freshman to play this season for Tech (7-3, 4-2), already a record-high in Beamer's 27 seasons as coach.


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"I have some family friends who went to Virginia Tech and I've always been interested in the school, mainly for engineering," said Kristensen, according to bio information provided by Tech's athletic department.

"When I visited down (at Tech), I talked to (former assistant coach) Jim Cavanaugh, who told me straight up that I'd have to make it through student walk-on tryouts by kicking in the stadium in front of coach Beamer. They invited me back, and I figured I would either handle kickoffs or redshirt. [True freshman] Mitchell Ludwig did such a great job on kickoffs that I thought I'd sit out this year, but now things have changed and I'm ready to roll."

Kristensen's longest field goal without a tee at Pioneer High in Ann Arbor was 46 yards. He's confident in his range out to 50 yards, but he said he booted a 63-yard field goal in high school practice without a defense lined up against him.

He didn't have any athletic scholarship offers coming out of high school, but Siena Heights, an NAIA school in Adrian, Mich., offered him a spot on its team. Kristensen's parents, Daniel and Jo-Anne, booked a last-minute flight to get to Saturday's game and should be in the Lane Stadium stands.


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