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Shepherd gets a kick out of Schmitt's numbers

August 27, 2005|By BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va

Ricky Schmitt's days are numbered at Shepherd University.

It's not like the Rams are trying to eliminate Schmitt from the football team. In fact, when he's around, he gives them a leg up and solid footing in any game he plays.

Numbers define Schmitt's stay at Shepherd. He has had four uniform numbers - 75, 83, 74 and now 24 - entering his third season with the team. Place kickers seem to get any number that is left over.

"I had to change. Seventy-five is too high," Schmitt said.

Now that Schmitt's number value doesn't resemble a rookie pitcher on a spring training roster, he can get down to the numbers that count the most. Those are: Three and one.

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When Schmitt is on, that's the value of the field goals and extra points he kicks to help Shepherd win games.

"I have to focus," Schmitt said. "Every extra point counts and every last-second field goal can be the difference in the game."

Schmitt's leg helped make a big difference for the Rams in 2004 when they claimed their first West Virginia Conference title in five years. He hit on 33 of 36 extra points and 9 of 11 field goals while adding a 36.5-yards-per-punt average to earn conference and regional recognition.

"Schmitt is the best Division II kicker going," Shepherd coach Monte Cater said. "He kicks the ball deep so there are no returns. He is a good kicker and punter. The big thing, though, he is an athlete. He can run. If someone does get a return, he can help run them down."

Schmitt's athletic ability made him think about doing other things than just kicking a football. He left Shepherd before last fall's training camp and headed to South Carolina where he attempted to join the soccer team.

After a couple of practices, he came back to Shepherd.

"Too much running," he said.

From there, Schmitt became more serious about kicking and has grown over his last two years.

"It's been just practice," Schmitt said. "I watch a lot of films and I have been going to kicking camps. I want to go pro."

Schmitt's extra work is paying off. He was selected a preseason All-American along with Rams defensive back Dustin Dudinski. Because he has attended NFL-sanctioned kicking camps, coaches and scouts know who he is, which could enhance his value some day after he finishes at Shepherd.

"(Punting and place kicking) are real technical and you have to practice each one," Schmitt said. "Hopefully I could become the first player to be the first kicker to do both in the NFL."

Until then, taking care of the Nos. 1 and 3 could help make Schmitt and the Rams No. 1 in the WVC and Division II football.

"Gettng the preseason honor means a lot, but I'm not taking it for granted," Schmitt said. "I made a couple of regional teams and player of the week honors last year. I don't let it go to my head."

The numbers prove it for Ricky Schmitt.

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