Originally Published: Jan 6, 2010 5:50 PM CDT
Oklahoma Sports Reporter
GLENPOOL, Oklahoma – Glenpool High School senior kicker Garrett Hobbs never thought this weekend would come.
“I’m really excited,” said the senior kicking star. “I have been practicing all year and all season (for this).”
Hobbs will compete in the final event of the 2009 National Kicking Combine Series in Tampa, Fla., January 9-10. The event features top kickers from around the country, all competing in front of college scouting eyes and the best of the best high school talent in the nation.
Hobbs landed a spot in Tampa after two great showings in the regional and semi-final rounds of the 2009 kicking series. The competition requires high school kickers to punt, kick off, and boot field goals.
“The hardest part I think is the field goals,” said Hobbs. “You’ve got a camera on you, all these kids around you and you have to concentrate and make sure that ball goes straight.”
Back in June, Hobbs nailed 8 of 10 field goal tries, slammed punts nearly 40-yards, and impressed with kickoffs an average of 59.5 yards during regional competition. That performance landed him a spot in the semis in Dallas, but Hobbs didn’t think his 6 of 10 field goal mark, and 31.6 yard punt average was enough to get him through to the final round.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it because of all the other kids that were much better than I was at some parts,” said Hobbs. “In my mind, I didn’t think I was going good at all.”
Hobbs did better than he thought. A few weeks later, he got an email telling him that he’d made the finals in Florida, and immediately went to work. He said before Tulsa was hit with mounds of snow on Christmas Eve, he and his father were up at the high school practicing for hours each day, seven days a week, to prepare for this weekend’s challenge. Since the storm hit, Hobbs’ practice time has dipped to just a handful of sessions, but the senior is confident heading into the big event.
“I give myself a 90-percent chance of doing well,” smiles Hobbs. “I have a good chance of at least getting top five.”
Hobbs has aspirations of kicking in college. His 6-foot-5, 205 pound frame could help him get there. While most players rely on a big running start to generate power on kickoffs, Hobbs’ long strides make it easier for him to launch a football with less effort or strain on his body.
“The shorter kids, they have to put all of their power into it,” explained Hobbs. “For me, all I have to do is stretch my leg all the way back and just go up through (the ball). I let the ball and wind do the rest.”
Size can’t be taught, but Hobbs is willing to learn anything else he can about his craft. He’s studied at numerous camps from top-tier kickers and competed against college level competition for years. The finals in Tampa this weekend will give him a chance to kick in front of former professional talent. Michael Husted, Mike Hollis and Billy Cundiff, all current or former NFL kickers, will be on hand at the tournament’s site to offer insight into what makes a great kicker.
Hobbs’ success is remarkable considering he only started kicking field goals in eighth grade. A life-long soccer player, Hobbs made a smooth transition to football . He only began punting this past summer, though, and the National Combine Series website ranks him as a 3.5 punter out of a possible 5.0 ranking.
Hobbs says he can hit field goals from up to 53-yards away, and can’t wait to try out his leg somewhere that doesn’t have any snow on the ground. He hopes this competition could lead to greater opportunities to keep up his passion.
“Every day I go home, I just think about kicking,” said Hobbs. “When I go out there, I don’t know why, but I just love kicking the ball. That’s what I love to do.”
Five other Oklahoma kickers will join Hobbs in Tampa for the competition this weekend:
Ian Sanders, Christian Heritage Academy
Austin Smith, Heritage Hall High School
Chris Peoples, Vian High School
Kaleb Hines, Sand Springs High School
Austin Brasher, Edmond North High School
For more on the competition, check out the National Combine Series online.