For kickers, the recruiting process can be tricky. With open slots being juggled between scholarship and walk-on student-athletes, the road is one that often takes patience to travel upon.
“I had a top five not long ago, and things went down to two pretty quickly,” said Michael Palardy, the nation’s No. 1 kicker. “Stanford offered a guy at their camp who will end up committing, and Alabama picked up both a kicker and a punter already.”
That left three teams: Tennessee, LSU and Oklahoma State.
“Oklahoma was just too far away,” Palardy said when asked the reasoning behind eliminating the Cowboys. “I am just more comfortable staying around home, and I want to play in the SEC.”
With only two programs on his board to choose from, Palardy took to the road.
“I think I have traveled more in the past three weeks than I have in my entire life,” he laughed.
This past weekend, the destination – the final one at that - was Baton Rouge.
“I really enjoyed myself,” he said. “My father and I made the trip, and we met up with coach [Joe] Robinson for a tour of the football area. He was a real cool guy, very personable. I enjoyed being around him, and that was something I was looking for out of him as a coach.
“We also took a tour of the campus, which is when we got to talk to the academic advisors about things,” he added. “My father and I had plenty of questions, and they answered everything right away and in a very straightforward manner. I was really impressed, because they put it all out there for us.”
In addition to touring the facilities – both athletic and academic – Palardy and his father also got some personal time with LSU’s headman.
“Coach Miles gave us all the time we needed to ask questions and he answered them all honestly,” Palardy explained. “He was so easy to talk to and very personable. He’s someone I would love to play for.”
Now, Palardy said, he has something to compare his Knoxville visit to.
“I was up at Tennessee not long ago [first weekend in June],” he said. “I got to hang out with Daniel Lincoln and some other guys, so that was fun to experience things from that side. I did not get that at LSU, because everyone was gone home or just not in town.”
Fortunately for the Volunteers, the program’s staff has ties that run deeper than the past few months of the junior’s recruitment process.
“Coach Gran and I met when he was at Auburn,” Palardy said. “He offered me when I was a sophomore, because he is really close friends with my personal kicking coach [Tim Conrad]. When he got up to Tennessee, he showed coach [Lane] Kiffin my tapes, and then he came out at watched me kick and they liked what they saw.”
With enough to draw on for comparison’s sake, a decision is in the cards.
“My kicking coach is going to come over this week and sit down with my family to talk things over, and from there we will decide,” Palardy said. “If I could guess, I would say it will be Thursday or Friday sometime.”
As a junior, Palardy connected on 76-of-78 extra points, four-of-five field goals and 98-percent of kick-offs were touchbacks. The left-footed specialist will also punt during his senior campaign and could be a dual guy at the next level.