Longview Kicker Andres Perez Embarks on Challenging Recruiting Journey
LONGVIEW -- College football recruiting is generally straight forward. If you're good enough, a team will pick you up and pay your room and board.
But this isn't the case for kicking specialists. Players that emerge to the forefront in close games and either save the day or blow it in one swift motion. Most colleges take their chances on the first and second-most called plays in a game by picking up walk-ons, regular students with a kicking background.
Sometimes specialists' success just doesn't translate to the college game in time to be deemed worthy of an immediate full-ride when there are pressing needs at other position groups. Colleges generally award scholarships after specialists prove themselves for a full season in live games.
Longview kicker Andres Perez, a rising senior, is fighting an uphill battle to be among the East Texas players with FBS offers and to win a free freshman year. But it's a worthwhile fight and the reward is sweet.
"Most universities don't really think it's worth it to give a kicker a scholarship, but it is worth it," he said. "When it comes down to the fourth quarter and there's one second left, you're going to need a kick to win a game. You need a good kicker to get the job done. In my opinion, it really is worth the scholarship."
There's a lot to like about Perez. He could feasibly finish his three-year varsity career with more than 200 career points and has a career-long 43-yard field goal with a lot of room to grow within a college training program.
Schools like him, but they're in wait-and-see mode.
Oklahoma State is a school that isn't as bashful taking kickers. They have sent Perez mail and feedback. But the Cowboys seem set with three kickers already on the roster and a signee in the 2013 class.
Longview's kicker is about to make a pivotal move.
"I'm trying to get a scholarship, so this summer is going to be very big for me," Perez said. "I'm going to go to the university camps. Four to six this summer. That will be the only shot to show them what I can do right then and there. I went to the University of Texas camp last year and they told me I had great potential. But I was a junior back then.
"I'm going back to Texas on June 7 and then A&M on June 9. Then Houston on June14. (Houston is) showing a lot of interest. Then UNT in July. It's a slow process, even slower for kickers. It takes a lot of work, but I'm hoping to get there."
Perez has been Longview's starting kicker since 2012. He's 12-for-15 in field goals all-time and a safe bet on PATs. He has scored 137 points, including 77 tallies last season.
"My goal is to break 200 points my senior year," he said. "I know the coaches will trust me. I haven't gotten to kick a 50-plus kick, but if I get the chance I'm pretty sure the coaches will let me out there and hopefully I'll make the kick."
If the opportunity doesn't come this season, Perez is bound to be thrust into a critical situation down the road.
But where and at what scholarship status?
"The biggest thing for us is taking the first step," Perez said. "We need to reach the coaches rather than them coming to us. It's pretty much hit or miss with each college."