Always prepared though, Rice Special Teams Coach Rick LaFavers compiled a list of targets from around the country early last spring and had kept up with them throughout the recruiting process this season in the event that a spot would open. Apparently it has, and LaFavers has narrowed his focus to a handful of Kickers.
Jimmy Newman of Oxford, Alabama is one of them. He is rated the #9 Kicker nationally by Scout.com; and kicking experts agree that he has a lot of potential.
Newman is recognized as one of the best in the country by nationally recognized kicking experts Jamie Kohl of Kohl's Kicking, and also by Chris Sailer. Both are considered among the finest kicking coaches in the world, and rate Newman among the top kickers in the country.
Newman is a big framed, athletic Kicker who currently stands 6-2 and weighs 196 pounds. He is considered a "Combo" Kicker - he place kicks as well as handling kickoffs and Newman also punts.
I spoke to Jamie Kohl about Newman yesterday.
"Jimmy has the potential to be an outstanding kicker in college. He gets great elevation on his kicks. He's a big strong legged kid that's just going to get better and better. He's been working very hard on his game and is probably a 5-star (Kohl's top rating) kicker now."
Chris Sailer has Newman rated as the #10 Kicker in the country and in fact Newman won a skills competition at one of Sailer's Camps in Atlanta last weekend.
Here's more from Jimmy from our conversation last night.
Owl Digest: So how is your recruitment going Jimmy?
"It's going okay. I've been working hard to get ready for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game."
OD: What are your strengths as a kicker?
"I think my leg strength is my strongest asset. I also get really good height and hang time on my kicks. I've been working a lot on all aspects of my game though. I've worked with a sports pschychologist on some of the mental aspects of kicking too. Overall, I think work ethic is really important in kicking well."
OD: What schools are you hearing from in your recruitment?
OD: What are you looking for in a football program and in a school?
"I sat down with my parents and decided on 3 things that I was really looking for. First is academics, second is relationship with the coaches, and third is location. I'd like to go to a school that has a nice campus and that isn't too far away."
OD: So what do you think about Rice?
"I like Rice a whole lot. Coach LaFavers is a really down to earth guy and he's been real honest with me. I like that the football program is starting to win games. I also want to major in Engineering so the academics there are great ."
OD: So would you strongly consider committing to Rice if they offered?
"Yes, I think Rice would be a great situation for me."
OD: Do you have a time-line for a committment?
"I think I'll make a decision before Christmas. I'd like to have it done by then."
Newman told me while he likes Rice, UAB, and Wake Forest; Furman was the first school to offer him and that meant a lot to him. He said that he would probably decide from among the schools that offer him first - and that a last minute play for his pledge would probably not sway him towards a school.
As good a prospect as Jimmy is, an Owl offer could be forthcoming soon for Newman.
Owl Digest will have the latest on Rice's search for a top rated Kicker as recruitment of its top targets continues...