As a high school athlete, Barrington native Ben LeCompte hoped to some day line up for the Bears. His dream came true recently when, after the 2016 NFL Draft, the two time FCS All-American punter joined the team for which he’d always rooted.
Playing for North Dakota State, the 5-9, 199 LeCompte lined up as a kicker and punter. LeCompte averaged 52.5 yards per punt in 2015, including a season best of 73 yards against Weber State. He finished his college career with the fourth best punting average in FCS history.
LeCompte sat down with Bear Report to discuss the opportunity he has currently to live out his dream.
"This is just great. I’m so excited to be here. Growing up I was a huge Bears fan. I watched every single game for 10 years straight. Even when I went to North Dakota State, there was no way I’d miss seeing the Bears on TV. I got that NFL online package and didn’t miss a minute.
"I’ve played football since the seventh grade. I was also a soccer guy. It really came down to which of the two sports I’d be better at and enjoy long-term. Football won out, obviously. But being a punter/kicker, I really had the chance to combine the best of both sports. To me, it was the ideal position.
"I went to North Dakota State for five years, didn’t get drafted, but finally ended up right here in my hometown. I had a good minicamp and I’m still wearing orange and blue, so it came out fine.
"I never really expected to get a call on draft weekend. I was contacted by several teams before the draft. They were telling me that I was high on their priority list. Scouts had seen me play and had watched my film. I wasn’t a complete unknown. The call that really got my attention was the one from the Bears. It isn’t often that a childhood dream comes true.
"The best thing so far about being part of this team, other than getting that call to come here in the first place, is being on the field with guys I’ve watched for so long. Robbie Gould is helping me out now. Really? That’s the greatest thing I could have hoped for.
"As a rookie I think the first few times you step out on the field and see all of these big-name guys, it can get pretty intimidating. You tend to be distracted by the excitement of it all. But pretty quickly you settle down and realize you are part of this team, just as they are. You are all in this together and by working effectively as a unit good things will happen.
"I guess coming in as an underrated free agent, I did have somewhat of a chip on my shoulder. I had something to prove. But realistically, in a specialty position like mine, very few players are drafted. What was it this year? Maybe two or three punters on draft weekend? Most of us come to teams on a trial basis then have to demonstrate our worth right away.
"What did I show the scouts to get this far? I have accuracy and a strong work ethic. I’m versatile and feel I can fit in however the team chooses to use me. I’m eager to learn and feel I pick things up pretty fast.
"I’m happy to stay out here all day just perfecting my technique. I’ll do whatever I need to to excel at the position. I’ve never felt that I know it all, or that I will ever be close to knowing it all, but I am willing to learn. I notice what is going on around me on the field and try to integrate that into my play.
"As a punter and kicker your camps are not like what the other guys are doing. Today, for example, I spent a lot of time with the position coach and the other kickers and punters tossing a tennis ball back and forth. That may seem odd at first but it's great for reaction time and hand/eye coordination. Of course we are also punting and kicking a lot. Accuracy is everything at any level and if you don’t work on that, it won’t happen.
"I’ve always really enjoyed both punting and kicking. There can be a lot of pressure mentally but it isn’t something you can’t get through. Actually I think most of us thrive in those pressure situations. I know when I spoke to Robbie Gould about that, he said those are the times he lives for, when the game’s on the line.
"In the months leading up to the draft I talked to a lot of guys I knew who played in the NFL. They all told me that nine times out of 10 things are not going to play out as you think. You want to be drafted but it doesn’t happen. You hope for interest from any NFL team and then somebody calls you who you’ve never heard from before. You wait for your opportunity then you take it.
"When It ends up being the team you’re followed since you were a little kid, its crazy. Who could have predicted that? But I’m here now and I’m grateful and excited to have this opportunity. I want to learn how to be a professional and get better every day at my craft."