Backup kicker back in the swing

JUST AS HE WAS hitting his stride during spring ball, walk-on kicker Romeen Abdollmohammadi was sidelined with a paperwork snafu. Now, with his junior college transfer complications cleared up, he's in Pullman for summer school and prepping for the new season. Not bad for someone who never kicked a football in his life until his senior year of high school.

Abdollmohammadi's role on the '06 Cougs won't be defined until the team goes through fall camp. Loren Langley will be a third year scholarship player and although he's struggled at times, Bill Doba and staff have been vocal in their defense of the Puyallup kicker, dismissing occasional media inquiries if any changes were pending.

After an encouraging start to last season, Langley went 14-for-22 on field goals and was benched after missing a 28-yarder in the Apple Cup. He was 5-for-11 his freshman campaign. The Cougs have, however, used two kickers in years past and Abdollmohammadi could end up as the kickoff specialist.

"I practice every day, and I'm starting to develop more skills and figure out the kinks," said Abdollmohammadi.

Terming his consistent long to be around 48 yards, Abdollmohammadi has on occasion blasted a few through from 55 yards and beyond.

"I'm working on that right now, actually, to get more consistent from 50 yards and beyond," said Abdollmohammadi.

ON KICKOFFS, THE NCAA recently changed the rule on tee heights from 2-inch to 1-inch, designed to decrease the number of touchbacks in the college game.

"I only have a 1.5 inch tee right now and with that tee, the average is about to the goal line right now," said Abdollmohammadi. "When I get a hold of one, it'll go pretty good, but that's the average right now."

ACCURACY AND HEIGHT, however, are at least as important as distance -- on both field goals and kickoffs.

"I think my accuracy is pretty good," he said. "When I played soccer I was a defender and from the back, if you asked me where the ball needed to go I could pinpoint it pretty well and put it right there. So I think that helps me with my accuracy -- going from kicking the soccer ball to a skinny person to some big uprights."

HIS PATH TO Washington State began when a couple of friends on Stanwood's football team convinced the soccer standout to try out his senior year. To that point, Abdollmohammadi, born in Seattle to Persian parents, was a standout soccer player who had never kicked a football before.

"Mainly I did kickoffs, our team didn't have many chances at field goals," said Abdollmohammadi.

Stanwood (3-6) had one made field goal that year, attempting only two tries all season.

After a freshman season on the soccer squad at Shoreline CC, Abdollmohammadi transferred to Evergreen where he really started to feel the pull of football.

"I got my own footballs and started kicking on my own," said Abdollmohammadi. "I came to WSU just this last spring semester but I've been working for a long time, planning on trying out for the team."

THIS SPRING, Abdollmohammadi had a little over a week on the field before he had to sit down and wait for all the paperwork to clear. But in that short time, he made every kickoff and field goal count. Along with a number of deep kickoffs, he split the uprights on all three attempts from 37, 39 and 37 yards in his lone scrimmage.

"I guess they liked what they saw and I made the team," said the walk-on. "I only had that week and a half, and I only got to kick in that one scrimmage."

Abdollmohammadi has two years to play two for the Cougs.

"I never thought I'd get a chance to do something like this," he said. "I can't wait for the season to start."

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