The College Football Recruiting Process for Placekickers, Punters, & Long Snappers
The collegiate recruiting process for placekickers, punters, & long snappers can be confusing and frustrating at times. It is paramount that players, their coaches, and parents are fully aware of every facet and pitfall involved. A little homework early in the process will go a long way in saving time and finding the student-athlete the absolute best situation possible. Players that believe, "If I'm good enough, the colleges will find me", often end up disappointed.
College football for placekickers, punters and long snappers can be one of the greatest and most rewarding experiences of a young athlete's life. While it may sound contrary to how we view the sport and all the good stuff that goes into it, the college recruiting process is best viewed as a business transaction without emotion.
At National Kicking Service we assist our players throughout the entire recruiting process. Whether you are a National Kicking Service veteran or not, feel free to contact me for any assistance I may provide.
National Kicking Service
"How do I get recruited?"
Realize that academics are # 1. Often, the first question a college recruiter will ask me is…."Can I get him accepted?"…. You can't play if you don't clear the NCAA Eligibility Center's or NAIA's requirements. Coaches look for solid student athletes. They are wary of players that may become academically ineligible or need constant academic supervision. If two players of equal ability are being recruited for the same position the best student will be chosen in a heartbeat.
Seek out the very best coaching possible for your position whether it's a coach on your team, National Kicking Service, or another reputable program. Become a student of your skill. Train hard and smart. Be efficient in your workouts on the field and in the weight room. Always have a plan and stick with it. If possible, find a training partner(s) in your skill and train together as much as possible. Always training alone in a vacuum deprives a player of outside feedback and the camaraderie of the position.
Obviously, exceptional performance is necessary to showcase your skill. Recording those performances clearly is of the highest priority. That leads us to the next section.
Making Game Highlight Videos
Most high school and junior college football programs these days are fairly sophisticated in recording game video. More and more are using the HUDL program to optimize all aspects. There are others. Game video will follow the full length of the all snaps, punts, and kickoffs. Sometimes it will not show the entire length of a FG, extra point or kickoff. In that case it's necessary to have someone else record the kicks as professionally as possible.
Remember, this is a highlight video, so include only the very best. If your school does not use the HUDL or similar program, ask your coach for help in putting it together. It's good to have a few "position plays" on the video such as a solid tackle, running with the ball, an onside kick, etc., but don't get carried away.
Making a Charted Video
Quality charted videos have helped many players in the NKS program receive full scholarships or opportunities they would never have had otherwise. They are especially important if a player does not have sufficient opportunities on the field to exhibit their talent for a number of reasons. Here's how to do it:
Long Snapping - The camera should be on the field facing the side of the long snapper so that the snapper and holder/punter fill the screen. Use an experienced holder and punter. Start with 10 consecutive punting long snaps from 15 yards. Keep the camera going. Chart the times and accuracy. NKS uses an accuracy measure of: #1. On Target (in punters extended hands), #2. Within 10 inches of punters hands, #3. Off Target (more than 10 inches from punters hands).
Next video 10 consecutive placekick snaps from 7 yards. Keep the camera going. Chart the times and accuracy. NKS uses an accuracy measure of: #1. On Target (in holders target hand), # 2. Within 5 inches of holders target hand, #3. Off Target (more than 5 inches from holders target hand). The placekick and punting charts may be done separate and on different days. Here are some parameters for upper level high school and junior college long snappers. The times and accuracy would be less for younger or less experienced players.
|15 Yard Snap||Average Time||Accuracy|
|FBS/1-A||.65 to .70 seconds||
100% within 10 inches of target
80% On Target
|FCS/1-AA||.70 to .75 seconds||
90% within 10 inches of target
70% On Target
|Division 2||.75 to .78 seconds||
80% within 10 inches of target
60% On Target
|7 Yard Snap||Average Time||Accuracy|
|.25 seconds||100% On Target|
|Division 2||.25 to .30 seconds||
100% within 5 inches of target
80% On Target
Field Goals - It would be great to kick 10 consecutive 65 yard FG's on video. Here's another format that college coaches are very receptive to. The distances are for an upper level high school or junior college kicker. They would be shorter for younger or less experienced players. Record the kicks from the press box or high up in the stands. Most importantly, keep the camera going through the entire set. A "best of"set of kicks is far less impressive. Use only the very best footballs available. You'll need one or two helpers to retrieve the balls and return them to the next spot. Snaps and holds are not required. Use your mechanical holder. Kick from the center of the field.
- Hit 3 to 5 FG's from mid-range (35 yards)
- Hit 3 to 5 FG's from medium long range (45 yards)
- Hit 3 to 5 FG's from long range (55-60 yards)
Make all of the kicks if possible. One or two close misses can be OK if the kick has the distance. If the set is not representative of your true ability then try again. Most kickers will try 4-5 sets to get the right one. Come back another day if your leg is tired.
Kick Offs - Hit 5 consecutive kick offs for maximum hang time and distance. It's OK to include a pooch kickoff and an onside kick. They may be recorded separately. Here are some parameters for upper level high school and junior college kickers. The distances and hang times would be less for younger or less experienced players.
|Avg. Distance||Longest||Avg. Hang Time||Best Hang Time|
|FBS/1-A||65 Yards||70+ Yards||3.8 seconds||4.3 seconds|
|FCS/1-AA||62 Yards||65+ Yards||3.6 seconds||4.1+ seconds|
|Division 2||60+ Yards||65 Yards||3.5 seconds||4.0+ seconds|
Punting - Hit 10 consecutive punts for maximum hang time and distance. Use a quality long snapper from 14 yards if available or an athlete who can toss the ball to you from 8-10 yards consistently. It's best to use a "referee's toss" with the throwing hand on the outside of the ball. Mark the appropriate distance for the line of scrimmage behind the toss. Again, record the punts from the press box or high up in the stands. Here are some parameters for upper level high school or junior college punters.
They would be less for younger and less experienced players.
|Avg. Distance||Longest||Avg. Hang Time||Best Hang Time|
|FBS/1-A||48 Yards||60 Yards||4.6 seconds||5.0+ seconds|
|FCS/1-AA||45 Yards||55 Yards||4.4 seconds||4.85 seconds|
|Division 2||43 Yards||53 Yards||4.2 seconds||4.75 seconds|
** Hand to foot speed all divisions: 1.0 seconds ability
Bring the camera down on the field for 3 hand to foot speed punts. The camera angle is to the punting leg side and slightly behind the punter. Hit 3 punts for hand to foot speed. Coaches at all levels desire the punter to have the ability to get the ball away in 1.0 second or less when necessary. The camera should follow the ball downfield. Minimum distance for these punts is 35 yards. Remember, it takes most punters a number of attempts before they get the desired chart.
Guidelines for Videos
- NEVER send out a video that's not representative of your very best performance. It's better not to send one at all. Be patient with the charted videos. It's a lot of work.
- Make the charted video in good weather conditions with little or no wind, dry, and 65 degree plus temperatures. For players in northern climes it's best done in the summer.
- Show the very best of the videos first whether its game highlights or part of the charted video. Get their attention.
- Make the charted video on an artificial turf field, if possible.
- If using an unmarked grass field clearly mark off the yard lines using cones. Do not use trash cans, towels, etc.
- Use the best footballs available
- Find reliable helpers who will take what you're doing seriously.
- ALWAYS KEEP THE CAMERA GOING. If the chart isn't looking like what you want then start over.
- It's OK to use a one or two inch block for charted field goals except after senior seasons.
"OK, I've done well and have the game highlights and charted video to back it up. Now what do I do?"
Make a simple cover letter. This example is for a placekicker. It might go something like this:
Eastern State University
New York, NY 00000
Re: William "Rocky" Smith
Springfield High School, Class of _____
Dear Coach Jones,
Thank you for taking the time to view my game highlights and charted video. The first thing you'll see is the charted video where I average 70 yards and 3.75 seconds on 5 consecutive kick offs. My best was 75 yards with a 4.20 second hang time. Also included are my two game winning field goals this past season. My awards (All League, All District, etc.) are listed here as well.
I am a solid "B" student working hard to improve my academics. My college board scores are above average and I am registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
I am very much interested in ESU and your football program and look forward to hearing from you soon.
My Head Football Coach
My Position Coach
Director, National Kicking Service
- Former college player at your position
- Another coach you've played against
Include with the letter:
- Excellent students include transcripts and college board scores.
- Average students include academic information and what steps you are taking to improve.
- Athletic awards: All League, All District, All State, All American, top student athlete at school, player of the week, etc.
- One page of newspaper write-ups, internet publicity, etc.
- Other sports played, student government, clubs, etc.
Send the letter along with the other information to as many colleges and universities as possible. That's right…….as many as possible. There are more than 700 schools in the USA that play college football. The idea is to have your name circulated within the fraternity of college coaches. Many know each other from former playing days, previous coaching staffs, coach's conventions, summer camps, etc. They will refer prospects to other programs at times as long as there is no conflict. The more your name comes up in the conservations of coaches the more options you'll end up with.
How do I send my recruiting package to coaches?
- Make your own website. It's relatively easy and inexpensive these days. Include everything on the website and send it electronically.
- Place the videos and other information on Youtube and send it electronically.
- Place your game highlights on Hudl. All colleges now subscribe to Hudl and its easy access to you.
- Make a hard copy DVD and mail it (Yes, physically mail it!) to your top 10 or 20 choices along with the other information. Few prospects still do this and it makes you stand out.
After sending the video follow up to your top choices with a phone call and/or an email in two weeks. Don't be shy. The follow up contact shows genuine interest in the program and, again, makes you stand out. The theme of the message is…." Hi coach, I'm contacting you to see if you received my game highlights and charted kicks video. I am very excited to hear what you thought of it."……Keep a record of all contacts, mailings, emails, etc.
Communicating With Collegiate Football Programs
It's important to know the level of interest each school has for you. Be direct and to the point with the coach or recruiting coordinator. If there's no real interest then it's time to move on. Don't waste time waiting around for something that may or may not happen. Be proactive.
When you receive an offer be certain to receive it in writing whether it's a full scholarship or an invited walk on offer. If the program is sincere it will be no problem. If they hesitate, move on.
How do I know if the school and football program is really for me?
Get an unbiased opinion from current or recently graduated players from the program, if possible. Ask around. Talk to your high school coach. He can make inquiries you may not be able to. Remember, the college program is mostly a reflection of the head coach.
"I really want to play at the FBS/1-A level."
That's a great goal but don't limit your options. There are outstanding programs at every level of intercollegiate football. It can be a challenging road for walk-ons at the FBS/1-A level. Know what to expect from playing opportunities to off season training schedules to the total time commitment.
"If I receive an "uninvited walk-on" offer, is the program really interested in me?"
Probably not. An uninvited walk-on recruit may join the team only when the general student body reports for classes. That means the player misses training camp.
"Are the college recruiting services worthwhile?"
There are some excellent college recruiting services out there. The problem is often your information is sent to colleges along with many others. I believe that there is nothing the recruiting services can do (for you) that you can't do as well or better. There is no one more vested in your college placement than you. There's a lot of work and some expense involved in promoting yourself but I think it's really worth it. If you can swing it financially hire a top recruiting service and promote yourself, as well.
"Should I attend one of these recruiting combines/camps? I even received an email inviting me to go."
First, if you have to pay to go to any event, it's not an invitation. It's a solicitation. If you are looking to attend one of these check it out thoroughly. Look for a program that doesn't judge you on just a single chart but provides you a full workout and with an opportunity to exhibit your skills. Be wary of hype and unrealistic claims.