Maples Makes Impact

GREENSBORO, N.C. --- Dillon Maples is typically known for his booming leg on the football field. However, during the East-West All-Star Game on Wednesday it was his tackling ability that had the biggest impact.

On two separate occasions – after a kickoff and after a punt – Maples, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound kicker from Southern Pines (N.C.) Pinecrest, made touchdown-saving tackles.

"I played safety my sophomore year and junior year," Maples said. "So I have a little experience [tackling]. I want the other guys to do the tackling, but if it gets to the point where I have to make a tackle, I can step in and do that.

"I felt like this was a pretty close game. It was either not even try and let them get six points or I could keep it close."

Besides his two solo tackles, Maples averaged 41.8 yards on five punts, with a long of 48 yards. He placed two of those punts inside the 20-yard line, including an impressive "coffin corner kick" that started the ensuing West All-Stars drive at their own three-yard line.

"I really need to improve my game on punting," Maples said. "I got a few good ones, but I didn't really connect on one tonight."

Additionally, one of Maples two kickoffs easily landed out of the end zone and he converted his lone PAT.

"I slipped on that kickoff [that didn't go for a touchback]," Maples said. "But there's nothing I can do on that."

Maples signed with North Carolina for baseball, but was drafted in the 14th round of the MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs have until Aug. 15 to sign Maples, who attended UNC's second session of summer school.

"I'm not sure yet," he said of his upcoming decision.

If he chooses the collegiate route over going pro, Maples, a right-handed pitcher who Baseball America ranked as the 46th best prospect overall in the 2011 draft, will also walk onto the football team.

"In the summer, it was kind of difficult trying to balance both sports," Maples said. "I think it's going to be easier than being a quarterback and playing baseball. Kickers' [schedules] are kind of flexible. I could get my kicking in and then go pitch."

On the football field, Maples says his position hasn't been determined.

"I told them I could do all three," Maples said. "So I'm going to go in there and compete at all three – punting, kicking, and placekicking. My plan is to go up there on Aug. 3 and just compete for a job."

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