K GRADY HARMON: Reebok Preseason All-American

Back in October Idaho received a verbal commitment from kicker Grady Harmon of Edmonds-Woodway High School (WA). We knew he was good, but we didn't know how good. For starters, Grady was named to Sports Illustrated's REEBOK Preseason All-American Team, and now he is currently rated by ESPN.com as the #5 kicker in America.

We are in the process of putting together interviews with all 6 of Idaho's current commits, but in the meantime here's a bit of history on Grady Harmon. Kickers are a little hard to assess...I mean, really, how many of us have actually lined up to kick a field goal before? How hard can it be? You just run up to the ball and kick it after it's snapped, right?

Not so fast.

We won't go into the mechanics. It's complicated, and it varies from kicker to kicker. But one thing needs to be made clear...it's an orchestrated effort that requires precision between the long-snapper, holder, and kicker. From the time the ball is snapped, placed, and kicked, the process is an intricate tapestry of precision, placement, and split-second timing. Snap the ball low...miss the tee when placing it...fail to orient the laces properly....rock the ball slightly forward....or leave it vertical....and the whole play could be blown.

And that says nothing of the approach, stroke, or follow-through of the kicker.

Next time you watch Idaho kick a PAT, or in senior-to-be Mike Barrow's case, another 50+ yard long-range bomb, think of everything that "could" go wrong. Or better yet, look at what does go wrong, and watch how the unit recovers in a split second to make it look like a "chip shot", or a ball "with plenty of leg", or a shot into the center's backside (in the event a recovery is not made).

You'll have to watch close, because success or failure is measured in fractions of a second.

Now think of the above at the high school level, where changes to personnel are often made the Thursday before a Friday night game, and where the precision gained by practicing the kicking game is generally an afterthought (at the collegiate level, a kicking unit will practice the entire motion over-and-over daily, not so in high school) and you can put into perspective how hard it is to compile "big" numbers as a prep.

Enter Grady Harmon.

Get it on the tee, and he's a machine. Get it in the vicinity, and he's good enough to make it look like "everything went right" more often then not (for instance, he converted a field goal attempt, changing his approach and stroke, although the ball was placed next to the tee instead of on it). Nothing punctuates his accomplishments to-date more than the fact that he has been recognized by ESPN.com (ranked 5th in America), SI/Reebok (Preseason All American), and the Washington media (All State selection) over the course of the last two years as one of the best in Washington, and America...heady company by any standard.

How good has his high school career been? As a junior, he was successful on 12 of 15 field goal attempts (a perfect 10 of 10 inside of 35 yards, with a long of 42-yards), and connected on 34 of 36 PAT attempts. As a senior, a year in which the team developed a new long-snapper and holder THREE TIMES before settling on a kicking unit midway through the season, he connected on 4 of 7 field goal attempts and 36 of 38 PATs. With such a young and developing kicking unit, many of the field goal and PAT attempts involved a breakdown in the sequence, and often multiple breakdowns. Despite this, his numbers were impressive by any standard.

Going into this season, Grady's longest field goal completion in a game was 42-yards. In a camp, 60-yards. In practice, 65-yards (wind aided). Likewise, his longest kickoff in a game was 72-yards. In a practice, 72-yards. At camp, 80-yards.

Get it in the vicinity of the tee, and he will kick it. Get the other components right (snap and placement of the ball and laces), and he's remarkably accurate with a strong leg.

The best examples of his current development and potential are his performances at the various kicking camps, where he has dominated. He holds the record for the longest completion at the Prokicker Northwest Camp with a 56-yard completion. At kicking competitions at Oregon State, Idaho, and the Air Force Academy, he dominated in both place kicking and kickoff competitions. Focusing in on the kickoff aspect of his game alone, last season ~25% of his kickoffs were touchbacks. As a junior, ~50% of his kickoffs were touchbacks. At the Idaho camp he put the ball into the endzone from the 35. At the AFA he put at least half through the goal posts.

As a punter (the position for which he earned Preseason All American honors), he averaged 36.8 yards per punt this season with a long of 53 yards while pinning the opponent inside their 20-yard line 6 times. As a junior in '04 he boomed a 64-yarder in a game.

His list of accomplishments are staggering, especially considering that during his senior season he also started at wide receiver, runningback, linebacker, punter, and place kicker, while also seeing time at safety, kick returner, and punt returner. Rather than write them all out, they're presented below in list form.

Look for Grady's interview in the days ahead. And, more importantly, look for Grady to make an impact at Idaho in the years ahead.

2005 Ranked 5th Nationally by ESPN.com
2005 Everett Herald All-Area Place Kicker
2005 Western Conference 1st Team PK
2005 SI/Reebok Preseason All-America Team
2005 Seattle Times Pre-Season All-State Team
2005 Prokicker NW Distance holder @ 56 yards
2004 AP All-State PK
2004 Western Conference 1st Team PK & P
2004 Seattle Times All-Area PK
2004 Everett Herald All Area PK & P
2004 Washington Preps 2nd Team All-State PK, Honorable Mention P
2004 ProKicker.com (Ray Guy) Listed in Talent Search Top 50
2004 Professional Kicking Services, Jr. All-American (pelfreykickingcamps.com)
2004 Kickit NW Kick Competition: Accuracy champion, Distance co-champion (kickitcamps.com)

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