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Ennis the menace

October 27, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Dan Ennis is a confidence man.

That's not what it sounds like.

Ennis isn't trying to steal money from anyone. He's trying to be money as the placekicker for the University of Maryland football team.

Plain and simple, Ennis' success starts, exists and ends with confidence.

"I'm more comfortable than I've been," Ennis said. "Kicking is a confidence game. In the past, I used to worry about misses. Now I don't. I take my success with a grain of salt because you are only as good as your next kick."

Lately, Ennis has had an ample amount of confidence to draw from because his kicks have been good ones.

The senior from Sykesville, Md., hit four field goals last week in Maryland's 26-20 win over North Carolina State and was named Atlantic Coast Conference specialist of the week.

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He hit two first-half field goals to give the Terrapins a 6-0 halftime lead and then finished it off with two more field goals and two extra points in the second half. He is 11 of 15 in field goals for the season.

Ennis is where he is after some humble beginnings. He came to Maryland as a student and decided to walk on to the football team.

"He's a guy to look at when you talk about precision. I'm really proud of him because he has hung in there," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "When he got here, he couldn't even kick an extra point. Now he's got confidence and he believes in himself. He's grown as a football player and a person."

That's pretty much how Ennis remembers it ... except for one thing.

"I could kick an extra point when I got here, in my defense." he said.

But just barely.

Ennis took his love for the University of Maryland and cultivated himself a purpose with plain hard work.

"Me wanting to come to Maryland was huge," Ennis said. "I had more desire to be a student here. Getting on the football team made me feel privileged and lucky to be here. Then I set some goals. I haven't lost being a Maryland fan.

"But I had never kicked using a holder. The snap-and-hold thing with the line in front was a challenge."

Ennis spent his first season simulating kicks. He needed to get used to the timing it took to having the ball snapped and placed while kicking over a line.

"My range as a freshman was 45 yards, but it was low and could be blocked," he said. "I had to work on the technique."

Ennis isn't a bruiser by any standards at 5-foot-10 and 158 pounds. With the help of Nick Novak, the former Maryland kicker now with the Washington Redskins, he learned that kicking a football didn't take brute force.

"He helped a lot because he told me that it doesn't matter how big you are, a lot of distance comes from technique," Ennis said. "In simple terms, it's keep your head down and your ankle locked while you kick."

In fact, Ennis is a lot like Maryland's version of Tiger Woods.

"Kickers are like golfers and their legs are like the clubs," he said. "If you take your foot and move it around, you slice and hook the kicks. You have to do your kicking with the same fundamentals all the time."

In the latest ACC statistics, Ennis ranks first in the league with 1.57 field goals per game, which places him seventh in the nation. His 73.3 field goal percentage is tied for third in the ACC, while his 7.4 points per game average are second in the league in kick scoring.

Ennis was a concern of Friedgen's in the early part of the season, but not now.

"He's low maintenance with high production," Friedgen said. "My type of guy."

And if that isn't a vote of confidence, what is?

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