"I played soccer as long as I can remember," said Josh Lambert of Garland High School. "I couldn't stand football. I never watched it, at never played it. When I quit soccer, I was taking a phys ed class and the teacher saw me kicking a ball, and he told me that I needed to try out. I thought, 'Well, whatever', and decided to do it. As soon as I did, I loved it."
Lambert's conversion to kicking an oblong ball rather than a round one went through a couple of distinct phases. His first two years, in seventh and eight grade, he was self-taught. He kicked extra points, but just had the chance to try a couple of field goals in middle school. When he moved on to high school, he began working with Rocky Willingham, who has been a constant in his development, and also with Chris Sailer, another kicking instructor. Their tutelage helped Lambert increase his range and accuracy, and made him into a college-level talent.
Along the way, Lambert had to adjust to the many differences in kicking a football. While it might appear that many things carry over from the soccer field, Lambert said that isn't the case.
"It's a huge difference," he explained. "Your mechanics, the way you approach the ball, the leg swing, it's all different."
Lambert displayed a big leg through his career at Garland, booting three field goals of fifty-plus yards and sending numerous kickoffs into the end zone. That led to some walk-on offers from schools such as Oklahoma and Texas A&M. He was prepared to choose between those and some lower-level scholarship offers when Sailer called him just before Signing Day.
"He told me Joe DeForest is going to give you a call, and that I should talk to him," Lambert recalled. "Coach DeForest asked me if I would be interested in playing for him at West Virginia, that he might have a scholarship for me, and to stay tuned. He called me back on Wednesday and said the situation looked good, and that he would talk to me on Thursday. I stayed home sick that day, and when he called he told me everything worked out and that they had a scholarship for me. I had already talked to my parents about West Virginia, and they were fine with it, so I accepted."
Lambert is likely the recruit who knows the least about West Virginia, given WVU's late entrance into his recruitment and his lack of interest in watching the game.
"I don't follow college football a lot. I just like to play the game," he said. "I know West Virginia is going to the Big 12, but that was about it. I will set up a campus visit before I go to school there, but I don't have a date yet."
Lambert said his placekicking and kickoffs are a bit ahead of his punting at this point, but plans to compete in all three disciplines at WVU. He has been on a workout schedule since the end of football season that alternates work on the different kicks involved.
"I have a day where I just work on kickoffs, because they take so much out of you," he said. "Then I will have a field goal day, and work on punting another day. On field goals, I think I am good out to about 54 yards. After that, other circumstances, like the wind and the field, come into play. Punting the ball, I hit it a solid 45-50. I haven't done the rugby punt yet, but I think I could adjust to that if I need to."