Matt Micucci is a place kicker at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois. He is an All-American kid: straight A student, he's earned awards for his kicking prowess and has enjoyed a wide variety of successes in other extracurricular activities. But he doesn't yet have a scholarship offer.
"Everybody wants to get things finalized early, but that's the life of a kicker."
Micucci was a perfect 50 for 50 in extra points last season and was successful on 6 of 7 field goals.
"In a game, my longest field goal was 37 yards. But in practice, I made a 53 yarder off the ground. I've started kicking off the ground on my own because that's what colleges need to see. During the year, I kick using a one inch block."
The 5'-11", 180 pounder checked out some college campuses on his spring break.
"I had an unofficial visit at Northwestern on Tuesday, Purdue Wednesday and Illinois Thursday. I've been in touch with Oklahoma, but I haven't set up an unofficial visit. And then some D-III schools like Case Western I've been talking to."
Those visits are time consuming, and in some cases require overnight accommodations. That was especially true with the Illini visit as they practice mornings now.
"We stayed overnight in a motel, and then we got to the facility about 6:45 am. We started out by taking a tour of the facilities with a couple of personnel. They were great. And then we walked out to practice about 8:00 am. We watched them practice.
"Afterward, I spoke with Coach (Joe) Gilbert, Coach (Ron) West and Coach (Ron) Zook for a few minutes. Coach Gilbert is a great guy. He's very respectful and outgoing. I really like him."
Gilbert is his recruiting coach. Micucci explained there are three possible options for him once the Illini coaches have completed their evaluations of his potential.
"Coach Gilbert said that they will watch my film. Based off of that, they could say, 'You're a great kicker, we don't need to see you anymore, you're offered a scholarship.' I highly doubt that will happen because you usually have to see a kicker kick in person before you offer them.
"They said another option would be they think I'm a good kicker but need to see me at one of their one-day camps. That's a probable option I think. The third option would be they just have me walk on."
It appears Micucci will attend the UI's kicking camp this summer, but he isn't placing all his eggs in one basket.
"Over the winter, I participated in the Kohl's National Underclassmen Challenge. This summer, I plan to participate in Northwestern's Showcase Camp, a one-day camp, and I'll probably attend the Illini one-day camp."
He was given a 4.5 star rating at the Kohl's camp and was selected to compete in the 2011 National Underclassmen Challenge. He proved his third place finish in the 2007 NFL Punt Pass and Kick at Soldier Field was no fluke. He's also a humanitarian, organizing two "Kicks Against Cancer," raising over $10,000 for the American Cancer Society.
He volunteers two days a week as a tutor at Kumon Learning Centers. He also works in the summers as a caddie for Royal Melbourne Country Club in Long Grove. He has met some well-to-do people at that job.
"I've caddied for some people who have been associated with the government. I've been in the same group with Richard Dent. And a bunch of CEO's I get to caddie for. I try to golf whenever I can, if I don't get to caddie enough and it's open."
Academics is extremely important for Micucci.
"I plan to go into Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering. I'm looking for academics first, and then I'd like to contribute to a very good football team that wants to win."
Stevenson lost to state champion Maine South in the quarterfinals of last fall's Illinois championships. Micucci thinks they can do better this year. He will have a much more important role than just kicking.
"We have seven returning starters on defense, a couple returning receivers and the returning center on the offensive line. I'll be the quarterback this year. We should be pretty good this year."