For some reason that is strange to us, the NCAA ranks placekickers based on the number of field goals made per game, despite the fact they have no control over how many attempts they make during a season.
With their scenario, UCLA's Justin Medlock, who had a marvelous year hitting 26-30 for a 2.17 made field goals per game average, was the top kicker in the country. In that same setting, Ole Miss freshman Joshua Shene is ranked 39th in the country, averaging 1.17 field goals a game after his 14-17 showing in 2006.
But if you go by percentage of field goals made, Shene would rank in the top 20 with his 82.4% success ratio.
But either way, Joshua had a terrific year for the Rebels.
The Rebel rookie from Oklahoma City, OK, was perfect on PATs (20-20) and led the team in schoring with 62 points, besides hitting 14-17 field goals, including 11 of his last 12 after a 2-4 start in the first two games.
"After a shaky start my first two games, I did OK," said Shene. "I was very nervous the first two games playing in front of that many people. In high school, I may have played in front of 2 or 3 thousand folks. Now, all of a sudden, I'm in front of 50,000 or more.
"After the Alabama game, when I hit a couple in that hostile environment in an overtime game, I settled down and started controlling my nerves. I was so excited and nervous early on that if affected me. Once I settled down, I did my job."
The successful kick in the OT period versus the Tide was the get-over-the-hump kick for the freshman.
"The funny thing is that when I trotted out onto the field for that attempt, I thought it was a 30-yarder and not a 37-yarder," he smiled. "I did a real good job of tuning the crowd out and focusing on what I had to do and it went through."
From that point on, Shene's only miss came in a 2-3 FG effort against LSU.
"I just go out there and kick it now. I don't think too much about it. I just focus on mechanics and making a good swing at the ball," said Shene, "but I had to go through the nerves early in the year."
Shene did not play any other position in high school, even though he contemplated it, so waiting to kick during the heat of a game was not new to him.
"I thought about playing another position my senior year, but I realized the only thing I could do in college was kick, so why risk getting hurt my last year?" he stated. "Kicking is certainly different because you have to be ready at all times, but you are not really involved in the action until your number is called. Kind of a hurry-up-and-wait deal."
Joshua said he was "fairly sound" mechanically his freshman year, but there are things he wants to work on in the offseason - one in particular.
"I want to work on keeping my head down throughout the swing," he said. "I have a habit of wanting to lookup and see it go through prematurely and that's not good. Other than that, I want to make sure my plant foot is consistently in the right spot.
"There have been a few times I have missed kicks because my plant foot was pointing a little off. It's important for your alignment. Also, perfecting my steps is important."
Shene practices on his own a lot, which he says is the beauty of kicking.
"All I need is a ball, a tee and a goalpost to work on kicking. I will practice at home over Christmas because it's something you can do by yourself. If you are a wide receiver, you have to have a QB to throw to you. A PK doesn't need anyone to work out."
Shene said leg fatigue was rarely an issue during the season.
"We kicked a lot in August and had some fatigue, but as the season progressed, we didn't kick as much so we could stay fresh. I never felt fatigued during the practice weeks or in games," Joshua noted.
Now, with his rookie season under his belt, Shene feels the best is ahead of him.
"I can't see myself being nervous when next year starts. My comfort level and confidence will be high, so I'm expecting more good things in 2007," he noted.
The Rebel PKs were exactly 50% in 2005. In 2006, Shene, as we stated, was 82.4%.
Quite a turnaround, especially considering Shene was a freshman with a freshman snapper.
"We had a good operation. The snaps were good and Rob Park is an excellent holder. All I had to do was kick," he closed.
And kick he did.
For his efforts, Joshua was named Freshman All-America by Scout.Com and was a coaches choice for Freshman All-SEC.
Not bad. Not bad at all.
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