Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. Today, we talk the latest with the nation’s No. 1 kicker.
Will Reichard likely making final decision in 2 weeks
“Is Alabama recruiting a kicker?” I got that question at least a few times per week during the 2018 recruiting cycle. Crimson Tide fans have been spoiled by watching some of the nation’s best players at every position group except one: kicker. Alabama didn’t recruit a kicker. The team did add a grad transfer, though, in former Temple kicker Austin Jones.
Not having a reliable kicker hasn’t ended the Tide’s dynasty. There was a scare last season when Andy Pappanastos missed a 36-yard field goal sending Alabama into overtime against Georgia in the National Championship Game. We know what happened after that.
Will Reichard, the nation’s No. 1 kicker from Hoover (Ala.) High School, could be the kicker who ends the negativity surrounding the position every Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“I can’t speak for all kickers, but I live for that pressure,” Reichard told SEC Country. “I want all of the pressure to be on me. I want everyone watching me. I am confident in what I can do. If I was to go to Alabama, I want to change the culture of the kickers in the past. I feel confident that I could do that if Alabama was the school I end up choosing.”
There’s a 1-in-3 chance that Alabama is the school Reichard chooses. Reichard, who is hoping to have his decision made in about two weeks, is down to the Tide, Georgia and LSU.
Unlike many players who reside in the Yellowhammer State, Reichard didn’t grow up a fan of either Alabama or Auburn. He grew up a Florida fan. The Gators aren’t recruiting a kicker in the 2019 class because they recently signed one of the nation’s best in Evan McPherson, who is one of Reichard’s close friends.
Alabama could have a few advantages over Georgia and LSU because of one of its newest coaching hires in Jeff Banks, and because of the school’s proximity to Hoover.
“I think [Banks] is the best in the business or at least one of the best, in my opinion,” Reichard said. “Alabama is also really close to home, so all of my family can come watch me play. My father actually passed away from cancer two years ago, so my mom will be the only one left in the house when I leave. I know she’ll want to come watch me play.
“They’ve made me feel special. A lot of my friends go there, so I will know quite a few people who will be there.”
Reichard has visited all three of his finalists. Georgia is one of the schools he’s strongly considering because of the success it has had at the position over the years. He’s also friends with punter Jake Camarda, who signed with the Bulldogs in the 2018 class. He thinks UGA is going to continue to compete for championships under Kirby Smart.
LSU was Reichard’s first offer. The Tigers offered him last summer when he wasn’t Hoover’s primary field-goal kicker. He split duties with Nebraska freshman kicker Barret Pickering. Reichard says he thinks LSU has made him feel the most special among his final choices. He visited Baton Rouge by himself, and when he arrived at the football facility the entire staff was waiting on him. The Tigers also sent eight or nine coaches during the recent contact period to meet with Hoover coach Josh Niblett to discuss Reichard.
Reichard, whose favorite kicker is Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens, admits that he does have a private leader at this time. He just wants to make sure that he’s 100-percent confident that it’s where he wants to attend college.
Alabama is only recruiting Reichard at the position. There’s a chance that he could be the team’s starting kicker next season. The Tide have Jones and redshirt freshman Joseph Bulovas on campus. Jones has only one year of eligibility remaining. Bulovas lost the starting kicker competition last season to Pappanastos, who made 18 of 25 field-goal attempts.
Reichard’s longest field goal came his freshman season when he drilled a 45-yarder. He didn’t play his sophomore year because of a knee injury and Pickering handled the majority of Hoover’s attempts last season. So this will be Reichard’s first season where the kicking duties are all his.
The longest kick he’s made was 73 yards in practice.
“I had a little of a break going into that day. My body was rested. It was a nice, sunny day. The kicking conditions were perfect,” Reichard explained. “There was a little wind but not too much. Everything was in my favor. But, if I were to go out on any day, I could consistently hit 58-to-61 yards off the ground.”
Alabama’s potential kicker commit in the 2019 class made his first PAT in the third grade. Reichard didn’t start focusing on kicking until the eighth grade. He played baseball, basketball, football and soccer growing up. He said he started playing football to get tougher and when his team had kicking tryouts he was naturally good at it.
When he realized that playing in college was something he could do, he decided to drop soccer and focus on football. Now he has dreams to cement his name in college football lore.
“I want to go down as one of the best to ever kick in college,” Reichard said. “Hopefully, some day, I’ll be able to play in the NFL. That’s been the dream since middle school.”
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