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Villanova's Hoffmann gets leg up Ex-S. Carroll kicker impresses pro scouts


Bill Hoffmann Jr.'s improbable collegiate football career at Villanova has taken on an NFL slant.

After an impressive spring practice of field-goal kicking and punting, the product of South Carroll High was one of three Villanova juniors interviewed by a scouting organization that represents 15 NFL teams.

The scouts came to Villanova to evaluate spring practice and test several seniors on the squad before the recent NFL draft. They were impressed enough with Hoffmann, quarterback Brad Parpan and offensive tackle Bill Lacey -- all juniors -- to begin collecting information on them before their senior seasons.

It is all the continuation of a surprising football career for Hoffmann, who was only a part-time kicker and defensive back at South Carroll before attracting attention from colleges while kicking field goals at Kiski Prep near Pittsburgh.

"I spoke with a guy who represents 15 NFL teams," said Hoffmann. "He talked to me about playing in the NFL and had me fill out a questionnaire. But the main thing is I have to have a good year this coming season."

Hoffmann (151 points) needs 57 points in his senior year to surpass former Colts and Raiders wide receiver Mike Siani (208) as the all-time leading scorer in Villanova football, which celebrates its 100th season in 1993.

The Sykesville resident had 74 points as a junior kicker for the Wildcats, who are coming off a 9-3 season in which they advanced to the NCAA Division 1-AA playoffs. Hoffmann set a single-season Villanova record for field goals with 14, including a 47-yarder, in 19 attempts.

He also averaged 38.5 yards punting last season and had 21 punts downed inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

The fact that Hoffmann kicks field goals and punts raises his chances of at least getting a free-agent tryout with an NFL team.

"Three kickers drafted this year were two-way kickers," said Hoffmann. "I found that interesting. It tells me they're looking toward guys who can do both. If you can place-kick and punt, it saves a spot on the roster and you know teams are looking to save money these days."

Hoffmann believes if he had been coming out of Villanova this season he would have had a good chance of getting a tryout with the Washington Redskins as a punter.

Washington drafted punter Ed Bunn from Texas-El Paso on the third round and Bunn is considered a strong threat to replace Kelly Goodburn.

"It would be a dream come true to play for the Redskins," said Hoffmann. "I'm still a Colt fan but they're gone. It would be nice staying at home and playing where everybody knows me."

Hoffmann has left no stone unturned in his quest to make the NFL and have a super senior season. He spent all winter and spring lifting weights. He stands 6 feet 1 and weighs 202 pounds.

The extra strength picked up from upper-body lifting, squats, leg curls and extensions had Hoffmann booming the ball much farther in spring practice than he did last fall.

He was punting the ball 55 yards without a rush and tried a 51-yard field goal that was off to the right but sailed five yards beyond the goal posts. "I'm a lot stronger from lifting and it's paying off," said Hoffmann.

Villanova strength and conditioning coach Jeff Watson said of Hoffmann: "It takes an exceptional athlete to be able to perform both skills [place-kicking and punting] because you use different muscle groups for each skill. The mechanics are different. You could be practicing punting into the net and all of a sudden your team makes a big play to get into field-goal range and you have to go in and kick a field goal."

Watson said Hoffmann has one of the best vertical leaps on the team and "can easily dunk a basketball." He also believes that Hoffmann has an excellent opportunity to play football beyond his college days.

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