VandyMania Interview: Placekicker Patrick Johnson

At 5-9, 185, Patrick Johnson is dwarfed by most of his Vanderbilt teammates. But when Greg Johnson transferred last spring, the redshirt freshman placekicker's role for the 2003 Commodores suddenly became huge. Johnson, who set numerous records at Athens (Ala.) High School, talked recently with VandyMania about his role in the kicking game.


VandyMania: You set quite a few state and national kicking records in high school. Tell us about those.

Patrick Johnson: Well, we were fortunate [at Athens (Ala.) High School] to have a good offensive team. I broke a record by kicking 99 consecutive extra points, which still stands, as far as I know, as second all-time in the nation. I also broke the state records for total points as a kicker, and total extra points.

VM: You had an interesting freshman year here at Vanderbilt... you came in and competed for the placekicking job, and it seemed like Greg Johnson had a little longer leg last year... but now he's gone. Talk about the situation this year.

Patrick: I came in last year feeling good the first week, kicked a lot. Then I kind of had a little pulled quad, so I wasn't able to compete as well as I'd hoped. Greg was a great kicker-- he came in and got the job done. We worked together a lot last year. I learned a lot from him. We'll miss him, but hopefully I can step up and try to fill his shoes.

VM: Was kicking off a tee a big transition for you?

Patrick: Yes sir. As a junior and senior I kicked off of a one-inch block instead of the conventional two like in high school. But that made it a lot easier for the transition from one inch to the ground.

VM: I know you're trying for the field goal and extra-point job-- how about the kickoff job?

Patrick: The kickoff job is up in the air. We've done it once. Right now there are three or four of us in the mix for it. It will just be up to coach. But I'm primarily field goals and extra points, and kickoffs, it'd be great if I could do that too.

VM: Did you punt any in high school?

Patrick: I did not punt. Punting, I say it's a lot tougher than kicking. In kicking, you've got the holder to put it down. In punting, you've got to catch it, spin it and drop it all in one-and-a-half seconds. I just never have really worked with it.

VM: There are some walk-ons who are battling for your job... does that make you nervous, or does it just make you more focused?

Patrick: I've had the mindset since I got here that I'm just working against myself and getting better every day at practice. As long as I do that, I shouldn't have anything to worry about.

VM: Do you feel as though you've improved your kicking since you've been here?

Patrick: Yes sir. I'm getting a lot more height on my ball. I've been working on kicking it straight, getting it up on time and getting it over the line.

VM: How much of your time in practice is devoted to practice, and how much to other stuff?

Patrick: We stretch in practice and get very loose. Then we kind of hang out a little bit. Maybe ten minutes of practice we're live with Coach. But other than that we kick on our own. We're filmed every day, work on our techniques and see what needs to be changed.

VM: You're not a very big guy. Amongst all the giants out there, do you feel a little out of place sometimes?

Patrick: I've been working in the weight room trying to build myself up. I'm probably not going to build myself up any more vertically, but I'm trying to beef up a little bit so I can hang with them if I have to, and tackle on kickoffs.

VM: Coach Johnson makes kickers go through the same conditioning drills that everyone else does, correct?

Patrick: The conditioning test consists of 18 110's with a different time for each position. I came up in July and passed that right off, so I would have fresh legs in camp and wouldn't have to worry about the conditioning.

VM: Off the field, what's your biggest outside interest?

Patrick: I'm really getting into weightlifting and competing with the guys on the team. Kickers traditionally have... you think of them as small and weak. I'm trying to get in the weight room and mix it up with the rest of them, so they don't have that mindset any more.

VM: How about when you're totally removed from football?

Patrick: I like fishing and hunting, being outdoors. I'm from Alabama, so I like to get out on the river and relax a little bit. Top Stories