UI Prospect Tyler Grassman Booms Kicks

The Fighting Illini football team will be graduating its talented placekicker Derek Dimke after this season and will need a replacement. Kicker scholarships are hard to come by, and many excellent prospects must wait patiently to see if they will be offered. Among those eager to please Illini coaches this summer is Ohio's Tyler Grassman.

Tyler Grassman made an excellent impression with onlookers at a recent Illinois one-day camp, and the school appears to have made a good impression on him as well.

"It was a very good day. I felt very good about my performance. I had a good day kicking as I had a few kickoffs over a 4.1 hang time and over 73 yards and felt strongly about how I punted and kicked field goals. It was nice to get out to the university, see the campus and meet the coaches and leave on a positive note!"

Illini head coach Ron Zook has at least three walkons already on campus competing for Derek Dimke's placekicker scholarship for next season. And he signed punter Justin DuVernois to a scholarship beginning this summer. How they perform at Camp Rantoul will help Zook decide whether to offer a scholarship to someone like Grassman.

"Coach Zook said he was really impressed with what I did. He liked that I was a dual threat. He won't give out a scholarship until he sees how the walkons do in camp."

The Gahanna, Ohio, native is patient.

"Schools may only take a kicker every 3-4 years, and you never know if it is their year. You have to wait pretty much to the last minute. It can be frustrating at times, but I'm enjoying the process.

Grassman was among the best kickers to come through the Illinois camps this summer. Kicking into a northwest wind, he was accurate on field goals until he reached 53 yards. He hit the left upright on the first one and overcompensated on the second. But both had plenty of distance.

Two of his kickoffs went to the end zone on the fly, again against the wind. And his punts had both great hang time and distance. Grassman works with kicking guru Tim Williams and tested himself at several camps before Illinois.

"At the Indiana one-day camp, I was 20 for 21 on field goals, and I hit from 60 there. I averaged about 53 yards a punt, and 4.8 was my average hang time. My longest punt was 68 yards. My longest kickoff was 76 yards with a 4.1 hang time.

"When I went to Kentucky, my longest kickoff was 79 yards with a 4.1 hang time. I was 10-10 on field goals there, and I averaged about 48 yards a punt and 4.5 hang time. That was one of my off days I guess.

"And then Purdue, we were indoors so I didn't get any punts charted because of the ceiling. And then on kickoffs, it was the next day after Kentucky. But my kickoffs averaged 69 yards, with my longest 71. My hang time was about 3.9.

"At Ohio State, I was 11-13 on field goals. I only punted three times. I had a 69 yard punt with a 5.2 hang time. My shortest was 55 yards with a 4.5 hang time. We did five kickoffs. My longest was 78 yards with a 4.1 hang time."

Impressive totals for anyone. Does he favor any school at this time?

"I can't decide yet. I have one offer, from the University in Buffalo. I just have to wait and see. Illinois was my last camp this summer, and I'm going on a few more visits in July. I'm just waiting to see what happens."

Illinois is strong in his intended major.

"Obviously, academics comes first. I'm looking for a strong academic school. I'm gonna major in Business, so I want a good Business school. I'm leaning towards Sports Marketing right now. And then a strong football program would be an added bonus. I definitely want to play in college."

In the meantime, the athletic Grassman will be on the field most of the time for his Lincoln High School team this fall.

"I played 10 games at free safety last year. I'm being moved to strong safety this year. I'm also the second string quarterback. So if that doesn't work out, I will help out at wide receiver."

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