CORAL GABLES – They came from as close as Miami Gulliver High and Miami Felix Varela High and from as far away as Phoenix and Jenks, Oklahoma. There were high school freshman, sophomores and juniors and there were those on hand who have had collegiate experience.
The 2005 Scout.com Kicking/Punting Combine took place this past weekend as over 50 top kicking and punting prospects from throughout the country took to the fields at Greentree Practice Field at the University of Miami.
Under the watchful eyes of founder Mike McCabe and his outstanding staff of , the event attracted some of the emerging stars of the gridiron.
Coach Thomas Feely and Coach Mike McCabe
"You have your football camps and combines for those athletes who aspire to attract colleges attention," said McCabe. "We do the same for the kickers and punters who attend camps and combines. They also want to attract the college coaches as well."
With the University of Alabama, Memphis University and the Nebraska Cornhuskers on hand for the first day, many of these budding standouts put on quite a show, as kickers had the opportunity to punt, kickoff, kick field goals and extra points, and learn something that could help them this coming season.
"You cannot say enough about a camp such as this one," said Tim Conrad, who has produced some of the nation's top kickers/punters at Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas High. "While we are out to teach them some new techniques, it helps that they already have strong legs and plenty of athletic ability."
Little doubt which kickers and punters started to show why they are regarded as some of the best in the country. McCabe's combines routinely bring out some of the best anywhere.
Punter Jordan Hofer finished his final day at school at Paradise Valley on Friday afternoon, so he and his father raced to the airport and jumped on an airplane in Phoenix and headed east to South Florida for an event that could help land him in college.
Coach Tim Conrad
"Coming here is what you have to do," Hofer said. "It's important to show how consistent you can be."
Hofer is coached by former University of Miami football/baseball star Rob Rajsich, who still makes his home in Arizona.
Travel is nothing new to these kickers who learn, gain exposure and have the opportunity to face off against the best. That's what brought rising senior Aric Goodman from Cherry Creek High near Denver to Florida for the weekend.
Goodman was impressive on his all of his kicks and was equally as good on his kickoffs, which landed two and three yards deep in the endzone. Kickers who can prevent a return become a huge part of a collegiate football team. Goodman, who is looking to get an offer from nearby University of Colorado, didn't hurt his chances at all at the combine.
"This is nice," Goodman said. "The warn and humid weather is quite refreshing after not having the chance to work year round back at home. I like this weather, and I realize it even gets hotter and more humid.
While Goodman and Hofer figure to get plenty out of combines like this, it's head-turners such as Ocala (Fl.) Forest High rising senior Daniel Lincoln, who stole the show on the first day. His booming kickoffs (six yards deep in the endzone) and accurate field goals and kicks really caught everyone's attention.
So did Jenks, (Ok.) rising senior Steven Woodward, who many considered one of the nation's best, also did quite well with solid kicks.
Another head-turner on the first day came from Georgia. Douglasville High's Adam Hill will be a senior in the fall, having already been named all-state this past season.
Hill not only kicked the ball well, booming one of his kickoffs three yards deep, his punting was simply tremendous as he booted seven balls 40 and over, and even had a 59-yarder.
Adam Hill, left
"I wasn't even going to kickoff today," Hill said. "But the coaches said go ahead and see what you have. It won't hurt you. It felt great kicking out here.
Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons rising senior Brett Swenson was also in the spotlight as he gave a glimpse of his outstanding leg when he connected on a 58-yard field goal and was impressive on his kickoffs.
While the rising seniors were simply tremendous on this day, there were two rising juniors who have to be on their way to a long and productive career.
Merritt Island (Fl.) kicker Kyle Dougherty and Oklahoma City (Heritage Hall Senior High), Ok. Kicker Jimmy Stevens caught the eye of everyone including McCabe and Conrad.
"You need to keep an eye on that young man,"
said Conrad. "He is a big time prospect and he will only be a junior. Wow, he has a great leg."
Others in attendance for the combine included rising seniors included Daniel Blum (Cooper City, Fl.), Alex Buxbaum (Winter Garden West Orange, Fl.), Kyle Cinzio (Newtown, Pa.), John Crowley (Taylor County, Fl.), Robert Mandemaker of Parkland (Coral Glades), Fl. and Lowndes County (Ga.) standout Kurtis Schmidt, who attended the camp with a stomach virus, but still did quite well.
Other Class of 2006 kickers to keep an eye on include Rodney Smith (Palm Harbor University, Fl.), John Stec, who impressed with a 46-yard field goal in his teams' win last week in a spring jamboree at Delray Beach Atlantic High in Florida.
Also, Sean Ellis (Cocoa, Fl.), Andrew Litchford (Orlando, Fl. Boone), Steve McClure (Stone Mountain Ga. Tucker), Lou Sebastiani (Gibbstown N.J, Paulsboro), Tony Wall (Tampa Fl. Hillsborough), Robert Arguello (Miami Fl. Gulliver Prep), Marcos Balladares (Wellington, Fl.), Kevin Campbell (Sarasota Fl. Riverview), Tyler Findley (Fort Myers Fl. Cypress Lake), Julian Leland (Weston Fl., Cypress Bay), Jonathan Mills (Grand Blanc, Mi.), Eric Perri (Miami Fl., Felix Varela) and Collin Wagner (State College, Pa.) were impressive as well.
Rising juniors Ryan Dunne (Lemont, Illinois) and John Futchko (Eau Gallie, Fl.) joined Dougherty and Stevens.
Then, you have rising sophomore Corey Smith (Inwood WV. Musselman).
Like Hofer, Jon Gonzalez (Fort Lauderdale, Fl. High) graduated this year and is searching for a college opportunity. So is Richard Nuss (Sellersburg Ill. Lawrence).
Then there are players such as John Daly (Coral Springs, Fl.), who left Florida State University and is seeking a transfer, junior college products Derek Desjardins (Omak, Wa.), Dominic Fragomeni (Sarasota, Fl,) and Gabor Sviatko, who has picked up kicking and punting the ball quite well over the past two years at the junior college level. By the way, Sviatko is a native of Budapest, Hungary.
There is also Fran Uribe (Villanova, Pa), who is looking to attract a professional contract as he picked up some valuable tips.
IN THE SECOND PART: Coach Mike McCabe, Coach Tim Conrad and former NFL punter Luis Aguilar will analyze and break down the top kickers/punters at the weekend event.
Coach Luis Aguilar
SCOUT.COM KICKING COMBINE: Day 1
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