Ole Miss fans got a surprise announcement on signing day when Joshua Shene's name was called out by Coach Ed Orgeron. And it was a welcomed addition to the fine class already assembled.
Shene is rated as one of the country's top placekickers, and Ole Miss had been struggling for consistency in that area since the departure of Jonathan Nichols.
Shene's head coach at Putnam City North High in Oklahoma City said his all-star kicker is the real deal.
"He's a great kid and a good student," Bob Wilson said. "He goes about his business. He has ice water in his veins. We say he has that kicker's mentality, which of course you need. He's just a good solid kid and placekicker. There's not a lot of downside to him."
All those are good things to hear if you're a Rebel fan. It seemed a lot of things worked in Ole Miss' favor to get him. Timing is so important when signing placekickers. Kids want to come in and kick as soon as possible, and the good ones look around the country to find the window of opportunity that might be opening.
"Josh went to a kicking camp in January (in Florida), and that's where all this came about (with Ole Miss)," Wilson said. "Coaches that were needing kickers were there and that's how Josh learned about Ole Miss.
"He really liked Arkansas (in his earlier recruitment), but they wanted him to grey shirt first. Arkansas State wanted him to sign, but he thought he could kick at a higher level than there. TCU wanted him to go the grey shirt route. Louisville was interested."
As far as instate schools, Josh didn't have a favorite it seemed, and the big schools in his home state weren't ready to sign a kicker at this time.
"I think OSU was a year away signing another kicker," Wilson said. "You know coaches don't really want to spend a scholarship on a kicker. Of course when it's the fourth quarter and they need a gamewinner, then they feel differently."
Ole Miss didn't want to wait until that point in a big contest to realize it. So they signed Shene in February. Of course with some veteran placekickers already on campus, it will be interesting to see how Shene fits into the mix when he arrives in the summer.
"I had tried to prepare him for the walkon deal, because I thought it might come down to that," Wilson said. "But people began to see what a great leg he has and some minds changed."
Shene was 8 of 9 in the field goals department as a senior. His long was 45 yards that Wilson said would have been good from 55 yards.
"He has a strong leg and a real mature and focused mentality - that ice water in his veins thing again," Wilson said of the 5-foot-9, 170-pounder. "He doesn't have a lot of weaknesses. He's not a big kid, but you don't have to be all that big to be a good kicker."
With a strong leg and good mental approach, Wilson says the Rebels got a gem in Shene, rated by some as one of the top two kickers coming out of high school in the entire country this year.
"Some kickers seem to psyche themselves out," he said. "Not Josh. He concentrates on what he did wrong from the last kick, if things went badly, and then he tries to correct them. He really is a true competitor."
Shene's team competed in Class 6A in Oklahoma, the largest classification in the Sooner State. And his school is one of the top 10 largest in the state. He had kicked as a sophomore but hurt his back prior to his junior season playing soccer. He missed the football season of his junior year.
By his senior year, according to Wilson, Shene was even more mature and stronger, "and it seemed like the ball just jumped off his foot."
"Probably 80 to 85 percent of his kickoffs went into the end zone this past season," Wilson said. "He was so accurate on field goals and extra points."
Shene started preparing for college kicking when he returned from injury for his senior year by kicking off the ground without the aid of a tee. That made some colleges even more interested in him, knowing he could already kick the way he would have to in college.
"Most of the surfaces out here (in high school) now are artifical anyway," said Wilson of the larger schools in Oklahoma. "He got a head start on some kids by not using a tee. That's what he wanted to do and I said fine.
"Hey, there are two poles down there, and it didn't matter to me how he got it done, just get the ball through 'em. And he did a really good job of it."
Which is exactly what Ole Miss coaches and fans are looking forward to from Joshua Shene in football seasons to come.
PK Joshua Shene could have impact
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