Bloomington – Of all the players that will ultimately make up IU football's 2009 recruiting class, one stands out as the most likely to play right away.
Scout.com's fifth-ranked kicker in the country, the 5-10, 165-pound Ewald will be the only kicker on scholarship next season. Record-setting placekicker Austin Starr has departed after holding down the job for the last three years, meaning Ewald is the odds-on favorite to handle the team's placekicking duties in 2009.
As a senior at Naperville (Ill.) Waubonsie Valley H.S. Ewald converted 4-of-6 field goals and 31 of 33 extra point attempts. His efforts included a season-long of 47 in a 46-21 win over Elgin in September, and he hopes to prove himself as soon as he arrives on Bloomington's campus next summer.
"With Austin leaving, (the job) is definitely up for grabs," Ewald said. "I think they expect me to come in and win the job and be the guy for the next couple of years. But it's going to be whoever proves themselves in camp."
Ewald had a chance to talk about his opportunity this past weekend when he was one of eight players on the Bloomington campus for his official visit. Ewald arrived on campus last Friday and spent time meeting the players, touring the facilities and viewing the campus before sitting down with IU Coach Bill Lynch Sunday morning before he returned home.
During that meeting, Lynch talked about the special opportunity that Ewald has next fall.
"We talked a lot about how it's a chance for me to come in and showcase my ability and prove to Coach Lynch and the staff and my teammates that giving me a scholarship was the right move," Ewald said. "I want to go in there and prove it to them."
Ewald had a chance to talk about his opportunity with a player who found himself in a similar situation two years ago – punter Chris Hagerup. A member of IU's 2007 class, Hagerup was a top-ranked punter who was recruited to handle the team's punting job from day one. Hagerup eventually lost the job to Michael Hines his true freshman year and wound up redshirting, but he bounced back in a big way this past fall and figures to handle the team's punting job for the next three years.
Hagerup talked to Ewald about not only the challenge that he has ahead of him, but also about his thoughts about the IU program and its future.
"He says he really loves it there, and that he's really comfortable with the coaches," Ewald said of Hagerup. "Everything he had to say was positive. He loves the coaches, loves the program, and believes it's a great place to be successful."
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Ewald Hopes to Seize Opportunity
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