RECRUITING: Macko waits to see if UF offers

The graduation of Matt Leach and Matt Piotrowicz will leave the Florida Gators without a kicker on scholarship. One champion who wouldn't mind filling the vacancy is Armwood High School senior, Reid Macko.

All Macko has done his entire high school career is win. As a sophomore, Macko was part of a state championship team. He transferred to Armwood as a junior where he helped the Hawks become the first Hillsborough County school to win back-to-back state football championships.

Since their return from state championship number two in Gainesville, the school hosted a massive celebration on Monday.

"It was great. Everyone was cheering us on," Macko said. "We had a pep rally toward the end of school. All of the guys were tired because we stayed up late celebrating. All of the news media were there. We went out and everybody cheered for us. It was pretty good"

Armwood was the best overall team that I saw this season, regardless of classification. The Hawks punished everybody they played. The FHSAA forced Armwood to forfeit a 27-7 victory over Middleton High School due to illegal participation. Cornerback Akeem Joseph was sent to live with aunt after the death of his father in South Carolina. He enrolled at Armwood. However, FHSAA rules state that a player who moves in with a relative must sit for one year. Although the FHSAA allowed Joseph to play the remainder of the season, the school was still punished for one game.

"We were disappointed, shocked. We won that game" he said. "We felt that it was taken from us. He didn't really play. He was on the kickoff team for two plays, and I remember that I kicked both balls through the end zone anyway, so they didn't really have to do that."

The Hawks kicking game struggled early on with a new holder taking over the position.

"At practice I do better from long distance" he said. "My holder was new this year, and he dropped a few when I was going to kick it. One of them he let go before I kicked it and it went sideways. Some of them weren't so good. But, I made a 48, 50, and a 51. There were some mess ups that hurt. Last year, I made a 53 and for the year I was 9-12 on field goals. My accuracy is good. I feel real comfortable from 45-50 yards out.

The first time that I watched Macko kick was during warm-ups before last season's state championship game (2003) in Gainesville. He was attempting field goals from 50+ yards that would've been good from 55 and 60 yards.

"In pre-game the day before the state championship game they let us practice (in Gainesville) and I kicked a 62-yarder out there. I made one and I missed one," Macko said. "We work on special teams the day before the game. We'll do five to seven kicks from 50 and beyond. I'll usually try from 57. It's practice, so it's fun. When everything goes well with the snap and the hold I do well. I have good accuracy"

His leg strength is obvious on kickoffs. At the Middleton-Armwood game, Macko launched a couple of kickoffs that went through the uprights and out of the back of the end zone.

"Early in the season, I kicked the majority of my kickoffs through the end zone," he said. "There were times I'd get too close to the ball and jam myself, and it was like a squib kick, but, once we got rolling, most of my kickoffs pretty much went through the back of the end zone every time. I knocked a few through the goal posts on kickoffs and the crowd goes wild. They like that"

He has spoken with Florida recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley several times throughout the course of the season.

"Coach Locksley and the coach from Kent State were here just a few weeks ago and talked to me," he said. "He just said that they have two kickers who are seniors, and that they have some backups, but he wasn't sure if they were going to sign a kicker. He comes by and says how are you doing and says that I look good. He left me a couple of scout tickets. I went up for the LSU game. I got a letter from Coach Meyer the other day. I don't know how much it means or anything. They send those out to a lot of guys.

"When scouts come into the school they'll come in and we'll go into the office and they'll talk to me. Mike Locksley (Florida) has come by a few times this year. Rich Rachael of USF, but I think they might have gotten a kicker. The coach at Kent State told me that if there was an additional scholarship, he'd give me one. East Carolina has talked to me. I heard that Alabama needs a kicker. My trainer Mike Black talked to an Alabama coach who said that he wants a highlight tape of me"

He seems unsure as to why he hasn't received more attention. He said that he has a solid GPA in honors coursework and scored well on his SAT. He is also getting prepared for the college style kicking.

"I kick off of the ground too, and it doesn't really affect me," he said. "I kicked off of the ground at the USF camp, and made nearly all of my kicks. I feel comfortable off of the ground. I'm not timid or anything."

Regardless, Macko will continue to improve and is determined to sign a scholarship come February.

"I think that I'm going to go to Chris Sailor's Camp in Las Vegas" he said. "It's a big camp and normally a lot of colleges go there. Street & Smith's ranked me in the top 25 in the nation though, so I don't know."

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