Tide has talent at placekicker

He frankly doesn't want to talk much about punting right now, but Tide Kicking Coach Aaron Price is so far satisfied with his placekicking candidates, especially Brian Bostick and Kyle Robinson. <br><br>"It's fair to say they're ahead right now, with a couple of other guys right behind them," Price said.

"The job isn't closed at all, but the front runners would be Brian Bostick and Kyle Robinson with Michael Ziifle and Mike McLaughlin right behind. Those other two guys are doing okay as well."

Junior Brian Bostick saw action in eight games last season, scoring 22 points on 6-of-8 field goals and 4-of-5 extra point attempts. He also handled kickoff duties the final four games of the year.

A former placekicker in college, Price brings a great deal of expertise to a job that many college coaches frankly shun. But he tries to keep things simple. "In high school, college or the pros, there is no gray area in your ability," Price said. "It's how far you kick it, how high you kick it and how accurate you are. You can't fool anybody. The goal posts are only 18 feet wide."

Price does double duty coaching kickers and quarterbacks. Head Coach Mike Price (Aaron's father) helps with the QBs, but the placekickers are the son's responsibility alone. "I think it helps the kickers to have a coach that appreciates the mental part of the game," Aaron Price noted. "I work with them a ton on those type drills. We do mental imagery drills and some game situations we put them in. I understand what they're going through, because I've gone through it myself. I think that helps the players."

Bostick definitely agrees. "He knows what it's like to kick," Bostick said. "He knows the strains and the pains of being a placekicker."

So far at least, Bostick and Robinson have been prominent pupils for Price. "They both have very adequate, if not good, height on the ball," Price said of the two. "They won't have to work on height or distance. They've got strong left legs. They're accurate enough. Just having somebody day in and day out on them about their technique has helped.

"I know they were schooled up on getting their times down. I'm continuing that. They're doing a great job getting the ball off. We've just got to get more consistent."

Playing in the final seven games of the season, Kyle Robinson scored 41 points on 23-of-24 PATs and 6-of-10 field goals.

Spring began with numerous kickers on the roster, hoping to catch Price's eye. But after three weeks Robinson, Bostick, Ziifle and McLaughlin have distanced themselves from the rest. Competition is nothing new for that group. "It seems like every year we've got the same battle," Bostick noted. "I feel like I'm hitting the ball alright. Lane Bearden is gone now, so we've got a new holder. All of us are working to get the chemistry back."

Interestingly, frontrunners Bostick and Robinson are both walk-on athletes. Neither is on scholarship. "It's hard to recruit high school kickers," Price said. "The most difficult thing about recruiting kickers is the transition they have to make from using the two-inch block to kicking off the ground. A lot of good high school kickers will take that block away and use a one-inch block or a half-inch block. But 95 percent use that high block. It takes most kids at least a year for them to change their style of kicking to kick off the ground. That's just a really hard thing to do for most kickers.

"Every year you'll see it. A great kicker will come in, but he's not as good off the ground. He has to change his habits and his kicking stroke."

Price talked about the current leaders for the placekicking job.

"Kyle (Robinson) finished last season on a good note. He's very consistent and is doing a great job out here. What I like about Kyle is that his accuracy and consistency does not drop off when you go to team situations. That's what being a true kicker is, going out there and being able to kick in a game the way you kicked in practice.

"Brian Bostick is doing well, too. He's another guy that can take practice and convert that performance into the games. Those two guys are doing as well as anybody right now. I'm pleased with their accuracy."

A former placekicker in college, Aaron Price brings experience to the job.

So, if Alabama was playing a game tomorrow, who would trot out for that first field goal?

"I wouldn't want to play tomorrow," was Price's diplomatic answer.

"Right now we want to keep practice competitive and make those guys work. They haven't had enough team situations yet to really get (the depth chart) broken down. I'm giving all the kickers ample reps, so I can make an informed decision."

Obviously Price isn't ready yet to name a starter. But he's confident in the total talent available. "I wouldn't be concerned at all with either of those guys as starters--or Ziifle or McLaughlin," Price said. "I think we've got some quality kickers.

"Kicking is all mental," Price concluded. "There are a lot of people out there that can kick in practice. But it's all about what you can do on game day."

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