June 26, 2009

Talented kicker garnering interest

Kickers and other specialists have a hard time attracting as much attention as prospects at other positions, but college coaches will almost all tell you that special teams are as important as offense or defense.

That apparent inconsistency is something Franklin Lakes (N.J.) Ramapo kicker Ross Krautman has come to terms with.

He has been helped by the fact that he holds an offer from Miami-OH, so he knows he will have the opportunity to play college football somewhere. Nonetheless, he's still auditioning for other schools.

Krautman was planning on attending Rutgers' kicking camp on Friday. Not long ago he was at Syracuse. He came away from there feeling good about things.

"I was there (at Syracuse) for their kicking camp," he said. "They invited the top 13 kickers they're recruiting from around the country. I came in first place there for the kicking competition and kickoffs. Towards the end it was like a single elimination thing. If you miss one kick you're out. It started at the 35-yard line and we kept moving back. It came down to me and one other kid from Tennessee. We went into a couple of overtimes but then I kicked a 51-yarder and won."

In addition Syracuse and Rutgers, Krautman has received a lot of attention from Boston College. Unlike Miami-OH, however, none of those schools has offered.

"Miami-OH actually offered me a full scholarship last week," Krauman said. "They contacted my head football coach and told him they'd be offering me a full football scholarship. My coach told them I'm not going to be committing right away, since I'm just seeing what all my options are. I did hear it's a nice school, though."

While other schools are considering an offer, Krautman is especially in the dark with regard to where Rutgers stands.

"With Rutgers, their kicker is pretty young. He had pretty major back surgery last year so they don't know how healthy he's gonna be this year. They did say I'm their top kicker that they're recruiting. They just don't know if they're taking one."

The 5-foot-8, 160-pound kicker said he has no favorites and everyone is "on the same level," as he plans on waiting a few months to see what happens.

Last year Krautman was 3-for-6 on field goals, but that hardly tells the whole story.

"I kicked off the ground instead of the block," he said. "I was the only kicker in the country to do that. After my sophomore year my kicking coach wanted to work with me off the ground early so when we went to college camps I could show I'm good. It took me a couple of months to start getting pretty good at it, and then I started to realize I was kicking better off the ground than off the block. I got more distance and a lot more height.

"I had to work out with the holder and snapper the whole offseason, during the spring and summer. Lots of high school coaches can't trust their kickers going off the ground because it's hard for the holder. I just had a really good connection with those guys, though."

Krautman was 37-for-37 on PATs and has only missed one in his entire career, which was blocked. Overall he estimates he is 79-for-80 on PATs, which would give him the New Jersey state record.

"My brother Ricky also kicked," he said. "He ended up getting a full scholarship to Syracuse, so I was watching him since I was little. I also played soccer when I was little. I watched him boot the ball and then he started working with me. His kicking coach helped me when I was really young. I started kicking when I was like 11."

Krautman said he has also received attention from East Carolina and Florida Atlantic. He also had 25 touchbacks last year kicking off a one-inch kickoff tee.

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