Who's going to be kicking for the Terps?
But Travis Baltz doesn't want to hear it.
"After missing, I really don't want anybody to say anything to me," he said. "You know what you've done."
It's one of the mental quirks for Baltz, a true freshman from Ohio, who is competing with junior Obi Egekeze for the kicking job this season. They are faced with the task of replacing Dan Ennis, who made 20 out of 25 field goals last year and kicked the game-winner as time expired at Clemson. The goal for both as camp opens is straightforward and simple: don't miss.
Egekeze, who enters his fourth year in the program, is no stranger to going head-to-head for his job. When Nick Novak graduated after the 2004 season, it was between him and Ennis. Egekeze pulled his quad in a preseason scrimmage, though, and the competition was promptly over.
Ennis was inconsistent in 2005—he hit just six of his last 15 attempts after starting out 11 for 11—and the job re-opened during the spring and in fall camp. The two were about even in spring practice but again Ennis pulled away when it mattered. Egekeze handled kickoffs last season and has yet to attempt a field goal in a game.
Rated as one of the top kickers coming out of high school, Egekeze was expected to take the reigns. Even though it's been a struggle at times, he isn't feeling the heat.
"I don't think of it as pressure," Egekeze said. "When my time comes I'll be ready."
The competition, the two said, is friendly. They room together and over the summer they would call each other when they went kicking. As Baltz pointed out, the two get along a lot better than kickers have at other schools.
"It's not cutthroat, it's not like that Colorado thing with the one guy…you know what I'm talking about," he joked. "We're trying to make the team better, whoever gets the job."
Baltz graduated early and came in last spring. Over the summer he attended a three-day kicker's camp in Wisconsin in addition to working out in College Park. Also in competition for punter, Baltz had to split his focus.
"I really concentrated more on punting during the summer. I've worked on some [kicking and punting] drills that a couple different coaches gave me [at the camp]. So I've really been trying to fine-tune and find the perfect technique for me," he said.
Egekeze attended a camp in California and practiced accuracy by kicking on Arena League uprights which are narrower than those in college.
"I just tried to make every rep count," Egekeze said. "Even when I'm out there by myself I want to make every kick a game kick."
It may feel like that too—every kick in camp is scrutinized and written down. It doesn't help that coach Ralph Friedgen has been known to yell at the kickers as he drives by on his golf cart, trying to get into their heads as they kick. He said he'll yell things like "your scholarship is on the line! Better make it!"
And for now, the good news is they're still on scholarship.
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