|School:||Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (Bishop Hoban HS)|
When it comes to glamorous positions on the football field, quarterback is the obvious choice for most high profile because of the visibility. However, when the game is on the line, more often than not, the field goal kicker is the one that must come through in the clutch. The demand of the position makes finding a good kicker very difficult, which is what makes Bishop Hoban HS so lucky--they have the powerful and accurate leg of Gerry McGroarty.
Last season for Hoban, Gerry hit 11 field goals, with a long of 53 yards. He chipped in with 15 extra points, going perfect for the season. He's also a defense's best friend, nailing 85% of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
According to his father, Gerry McGroarty, Sr., "Normally his kickoffs are out of the endzone in the air. Most of them are at least in the endzone in the air. He had a few that he got right to the goaline or 1 yard line."
Strictly a soccer player until 10th grade, Gerry attempted a 58 yarder in a game last season that had the distance, but sailed right of the upright by yards. He admitted to hitting a 60 yarder while messing around in practice.
Although his main football focus has been on kicking, last season Gerry showed that he could be an excellent punter in college.
"His punts are usually 50-55 yards in the air. We don't have an actual average on him because I wasn't following the punting since I didn't think he would be a punter," admitted Mr. McGroarty. "If he's in the back of the endzone, they're going to at least hit the 50 yard line in the air. In one game, there were 6 or 7 punts where he was in the back of the end zone and they went to the 50 or beyond. He had to hit one against Meyers HS that was 70 yards or better."
So far Gerry's leg has piqued early interest from some Division 1 schools, including Penn State, Boston College, Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Illinois. Although he has no offers at this point, Gerry admitted that he would like to look at schools that were serious about scholarship kickers.
According to the McGroarty's, Penn State has expressed the most early interest in Gerry. Last Friday, April 4th, both Gerry and his father traveled to Happy Valley for an individual junior day meeting with the Nittany Lion coaching staff.
"We went down Friday morning at 10 o'clock. We had an appointment with Coach (Dick) Anderson and then he was going to take Gerry and myself through everything. It was pretty much a full day until 4 o'clock, when we went over to the practice and scrimmage. Then we ate with the team and came back (home). We were invited to stay (for the Saturday junior day) but Gerry had to take his SATs again."
Mr. McGroarty continued, "Gerry was really impressed with the school, the emphasis on academics, and how it's set up where Sunday thru Thursday they have their mandatory study halls with help and everything for everybody. Your not on your own. They help you, which I thought was great."
During the day long visit, the McGroarty's had the chance to meet with Coach Paterno, who chatted with them for five minutes.
"Coach Paterno came out for a while. Actually quite a few of the coaches got involved during the day, along with the academic advisors, guidance counselors, all the trainers and the strength and conditioning team. It was really a nice day," said Mr. McGroarty.
Like his father, Gerry left Penn State quite impressed with what the Nittany Lions had to offer a student-athlete.
"I was certainly very impressed from the time I got there until I left. They showed me around the facilities, the weightroom and the football building, where all the players are. We met the trainers, the strength coaches and a few other coaches," said Gerry. "Then they showed me around campus a little bit. I got to watch some practice--they started spring conditioning I guess. (The players) looked like they were in tip-top shape. They looked like they were ready for gametime."
Had Gerry ever had the opportunity to visit Penn State on a previous occasion?
"I'd been invited a few times before. I swam there in the winter for the State Championships. This past fall, they invited me for a few football games (Michigan State and Illinois," stated Gerry. "Both games were good. They blew Michigan State out and I think they beat Illinois pretty bad too. It was impressive to watch them."
Throughout the day, everybody involved with the Penn State program took time to answer questions, give tips, and show the McGroarty's what they needed to see. During the day, both Robbie Gould and Paul Jefferson took time out their practice schedule to talk with Gerry.
With Dave Kimball graduating after this season, leaving only Robbie Gould, Penn State may be in a position to offer a scholarship to a kicker for its class of 2008. What did the coaches tell him about their kicking situation in the future?
"They did say they needed somebody for the 2004 season," said Gerry.
This weekend the McGroarty's will be driving to Boston College for their junior day. Gerry mentioned he would like to visit both Notre Dame and Syracuse, but nothing has been set up with either school at this point.
With colleges very interested in Gerry already, it should not be long until he teams with Syracuse basketball star and fellow northeastern Pennsylvania native, Gerry McNamara, to form the GMac's of college athletics.
(Interview by Steve Curry)