It’s a lonely life being a kicker.
Basically, you do not exist. That is, until the waning seconds of a game that’s on the line and your kick is for all the marbles. That’s when a kicker emerges from under his rock of anonymity. Whether he likes it or not.
If he misses, he can’t run back under that rock fast enough. Kickers would rather remain anonymous until after they make that big kick. Then they can bask in the glory for a few days knowing their sudden celebrity will last only as long as the next missed kick.
It’s a tough life being a kicker.
“You have to look at it in a positive way. You can’t really look at it negatively,” says Orlando First Academy kicker Landon Scheer, who is the No. 11-rated kicking prospect in the country according to Kohl’s Kicking, one of the few organizations devoted to the promotion of up-and-coming kickers. “You can’t really take it personal because there is no way you are going to make them all. You can try and make them all as best you can, but as long as you keep a cool head and just keep it simple, you’ll be able to put them through.”
Scheer doesn’t mean to make it sound simple. It’s not, and neither is gaining a scholarship as a college kicker. Most kickers have to rely on schools inviting them to walk on with the chance of a scholarship possibly looming later in their college careers.
They still hold out hope. Realistically, however, players like Orlando Boone star Johnny Townsend only come along so often. Townsend used the sound of his booming punts and some good coaching through the years to get attention.
Townsend, who committed to Ohio State with a full scholarship offer last summer, even had choices of playing at Alabama and Florida. He ultimately signed with the Gators.
Some can't get any looks, and then Townsend had too many.
It's never simple being a kicker.
Scheer and guys like Townsend’s ex-teammate Austin Jones at Boone and Orlando Timber Creek kicker Christian Pereira aand Ricky Buckner at Dr. Phillips re hoping the recent attention garnered by Townsend will reflect positively Orlando kickers.
“It helps me a lot because they know that a good punter came out of Boone, so if they hear about another good special-teamer at Boone, they might start looking into that,” said Jones.
But they can’t rely on hope. They can’t even rely on game film. Many of these kickers won’t even get an opportunity to kick more than 10 field goals in a season.
Scheer had a long of 48 yards last season, hitting nine of 13 attempts. Pereira got 10 opportunities, making seven with a long of 42 yards. Jones hit five field goals in 10 attempts, including a game-winning 34-yarder in coach Phil Ziglar’s final game to knock off Edgewater. Two other 2014 kickers with college hopes are Rickie Mortlock of Lake Minneola, Grant Reynolds of Eustis and Jame Eldridge of Leesburg.
Sophomore soccer star Alberto Escobedo is another American football kicker who can flat out boot it. Other underclassmen hoping to get some early attention are Townsend's brother and fellow Boone High punter Tommy Townsend, another sophomore, and freshman kicker Phillip Shure of Olympia.
The key for the kickers is camps. They have to go to camps to improve their rankings in the eyes of those who know kicking, like area kicking specialist Nick Fleming, a former Florida Gators kicker who runs local camps and also works with former NFL kickers like Michael Husted on a national and regional level.
For the kickers, they rely on the rankings because they don’t have a media entourage covering their camps and combines like the other position players.
“I’ll tell my coach that I have a camp coming up, but I don’t think he realizes how much there is to it,” Scheer said. “We actually have to go to them to keep our ranking so college coaches can look at it. That’s the only place they are going to see how we are doing. I don’t think they pay attention to your season stats that much, but they really look at those camps and contact people who they know are reliable sources.”
And like Scheer said, these kickers have to go to these camps. Miss one camp and it’s like blowing a game-winning field goal. Scheer missed a camp last year and fell from No. 7 in the country all the way down to No. 24. He’s just recently regaining his status. The same thing happened to Jones. He fell from a ranking in the 30s back to where he sits now as the No. 50 kicker at kohlskicking.com.
So they kick, and they wait.
“I have no idea what’s out there,” said Scheer, who like all the ohers, will attend several on-campus camps this summer. “I guess I’ll find out.”
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.