Garoutte seeking consistency

Few players on a football team are as frequently scrutinized as a team's placekicker, especially with ASU where kickers—both for the Sun Devils and opposing teams—have recently played significant roles in game outcomes, for good and bad.

After witnessing the final chapter in the career of Thomas Weber, whose career included All-America honors, Lou Groza Award recognition but also notable stretches of inconsistency, redshirt freshman Alex Garoutte is now tasked with taking over as ASU's primary placekicker.

A Phoenix native and graduate of Brophy Prep, the 6-foot-1, 184-pounder was originally provided a scholarship offer for the 2010 recruiting cycle, but the plan then briefly changed and Garoutte was slated to greyshirt and begin his college tenure this spring.

However, Garoutte enrolled at ASU in the fall to take classes and practice with the team and a scholarship opening ended up being available to him. For Garoutte to be able to join the team a semester earlier than expected was, to him, a tremendous blessing as he was able to be mentored by one of the nation's most experienced kickers.

"(Enrolling in the fall) was one of the best decisions I've ever made," confessed Garoutte. "To have been able to learn from Weber was one of the greatest things I could have done. He was a very inspirational guy. Some people look at freshmen and blow them off, but he taught me so much. Because of that I'm so much better from the day I got here."

In an odd way, it may be to Garoutte's benefit that Weber both enjoyed the ecstasy of national accolades as well as the agony of injuries and inaccuracy, as Weber's body of work enabled him as a senior to reflect and help prepare Garoutte for a potentially lengthy kicking career at ASU.

"The whole mental side of things is something (Weber) dealt with a lot," recalled Garoutte. "Being a kicker, when you mess up or have a bad day, you have a hundred people telling you what you should have done. Thomas was always giving me constant reminders and help with my technique and that is something that has helped me out a great deal."

Now that Weber has graduated and Garoutte is the primary option at kicker, he now faces the scrutiny and need for consistency that all placekickers face. Thus far in the spring, his performances have been admittedly erratic, though he has had times of showing an impressive, capable leg. On some occasions, Garoutte has shown the necessary poise to complement his power, while others have been marred by inconsistency.

"(My kicking has) definitely been up and down," admitted Garoutte. "I've had moments where I've shown what I can do and moments of inconsistency. I just need to really focus more on the little things and get more comfortable."

Most importantly for a kicker, as any football fan is aware, is his confidence – both self-confidence and confidence from teammates and coaches—and in Garoutte's case, head coach Dennis Erickson remains ultimately confident in the kicker's ability to perform at high level.

"Having the coaches' confidence really helps with my own confidence," said Garoutte. "This spring and moving forward toward the fall, I need to work on being consistent on my workouts; I need to go out there and treat every practice like it's a game and work to make every kick."

Though Garoutte is an unproven commodity in the college game, his high school résumé is an impressive one and he has shown no lack of leg strength and determination. Additionally, ASU's transition to a new kicker is a commonality among this year's Pac-12 squads, as six other teams have to replace senior kickers from 2010 and, as ASU fans are well aware, a seventh team in Tucson is searching for options to improve its kicking. To put it mildly, there may be quite a few games in the conference that are determined by the feet of newcomers.

With the 2011 season coming closer and closer upon the horizon, Garoutte has shown his coaches and onlookers mixed results but flashes of strength. Ultimately, the coaches believe he has every skill to be a gamer and has exhibited many similarities to his predecessor and have high expectations for Garoutte's rookie season on the field for ASU.

"It is very important for me to work as hard as I can to improve," said Garoutte. "I always expect to make every kick and will do everything I can to get to the point that I am (making every kick)."

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