Who will kick for Army in 2008?

Fast forward to Army's season opener against Temple on Aug. 30 at Michie Stadium. It's a tie game, 21-21, the Black Knights have the ball on Temple's 19-yard line with four seconds left. Army coach Stan Brock calls his last timeout and sends the kicker on the field to play the role of hero.

There's only one question: Who will be Army's kicker this fall? The Black Knights face several questions heading into the 2008 season and one of them is the kicking game. While the kicking and punting positions aren't as glamorous as the quarterback spot, they still are important.

Technically, Army didn't have a suitable kicker last year. That's why punter Owen Tolson filled the void. Let's get one thing straight: Tolson had a phenomenal punting year in 2007. That's why he spent this weekend showing off his leg at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

But Tolson, in a tough double-duty spot, converted just 8-of-15 (53.3 percent) field goals last year. That usually won't cut it for a team fighting for as many wins as it can get.

That leads us to our original question: Who will be kicking the ball through the uprights for the Black Knights with former Army star kicker J. Parker-like accuracy and poise? The competition will likely come down to rising seniors Adam DeMarco and Andrew Rinehart.

DeMarco, a former sprint football player, is 1-for-2 career as a kicker. Rinehart has only seen time as a holder and could end up being Army's punter. The experience factor is a concern, but DeMarco and Rinehart both have good legs and they could easily work out.

The kicking position has been a crap shoot for Army in recent years. In 2003, the Black Knights attempted just eight field goals. During the first two seasons under Bobby Ross (2003-04), Army made just 11 field goals.

The placekicking situation seemed headed for disaster in 2005 when Joe Riley began the year 1-for-6. But Ross gave Riley the hook and Justin Koenig ended the year 9-for-12.

There have been other bright spots. Tolson kicked two field goals, including the 25-yard game-winner in Army's 20-17 come-from-behind overtime win over Tulane last fall. He had no problem with double-duty that night, placing five punts inside the the Green Wave's 20-yard line.

Austin Miller went 12-of-17 in 2006, including a 36-yard game-winner in a 17-14 overtime win over Kent State. Not only that, Miller provided the Black Knights with one of the best stories of the season.

Miller began his career as a highly-touted kicker, but switched to safety during spring practice in 2006 because he didn't think he would start as a kicker. He wouldn't have seen time at safety, either. But Miller asked Ross if he could kick again before his senior year and the mentor said yes.

Miller than went out and beat Koenig for the job. Miller's kick against Kent State saved the Black Knights from an 0-3 start. Indeed, it was a feel-good story. Let's hope DeMarco or Rinehart weave a similar script.


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