Tide Battles Tigers for State's Top Kicker

Ryan Shoemaker, from Oak Mountain, (Ala.) has been to Alabama and Auburn on official visits. The Tide and Tigers are eager to add a kicker/punter to their class of 2006, and Shoemaker is close to a decision.

"I am going to make my decision January 6," said Ryan Shoemaker. "It's going to be between Alabama and Auburn. It's going to be a really tough decision for me. Neither team has an edge right now."

"I am not really sure how I will decide," Shoemaker continued. "I am going to write down the positives and negatives of both schools. I am going to try to find something that sticks out. I want to go to the school where I feel the most comfortable."

The state's top kicker is excited about the opportunity to stay home and play college football. Alabama and Auburn have asked Shoemaker to walk-on and earn a scholarship in the future.

"I didn't receive any offers from any other schools," he said. "I made it clear that I wanted to stay in-state. Alabama and Auburn are the only two schools I am interested in. I will have a chance to earn a scholarship early."

Shoemaker talks about his official visits with the Tide and Tigers.

Alabama: "Alabama went really good. I talked to coach [Mike] Shula and coach [Dave] Ungerer a lot. They kept telling me there was a great chance I could come in early and compete for playing time. We went over the special teams, and they showed me how they conduct practice. They wanted me to get used to how they practice."

"Andrew Friedman [Tide kicker] was my visit host," said Shoemaker. "I thought he was awesome. He showed me a really good time. Alabama was different from Auburn because all the students were still in town. I knew students were not going to be at Auburn, but I got to experience the campus life at Alabama. I had a lot of fun."

Auburn: "The visit to Auburn was really exciting. Chas Crofoot was my official visit host, and I had a great time with him. The Auburn coaches were telling me how they want me to be the guy after Kody Bliss leaves."

"Auburn emphasizes special teams a lot," Shoemaker said. "Coach [Terry] Price called and said he and coach [Tommy] Tuberville plan to make an in-home visit with me January 5."

The 6-0, 190-pound kicker knows what he likes about each school and shared his thoughts of each program.

"I grew up an Alabama fan," he said. "I have followed them since I was a little kid. The past few years I have become more neutral. There is a great opportunity at Alabama for me to play early. I love the coaches, and it's a great program."

"I really like the team unity," Shoemaker said of Auburn. "It's incredible. Coach Gran, coach Tuberville and coach Price have been nothing but great to me. I like how serious they take their special teams."

The Auburn coaches are planning an in-home visit the day before Shoemaker's announcement, and the Tide coaches plan to visit as well.

"Coach Shula and coach Ungerer plan to visit January 4 or January 5. There is a possibility Alabama and Auburn will come on the same day," he said.

Shoemaker made 12-18 field goals as a senior, 38-39 PATs and hit nearly 80-percent of his kick-offs into the endzone. He averaged 39.5 yards as a senior and averaged 42.5 as a junior. Oak Mountain finished the season 10-4, and lost to Hoover in the 6A semi-finals.

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