Scott Beckler, the state of South Carolina's top place kicker, visited Vanderbilt this past weekend on an unofficial recruiting visit.
Beckler, whose leg strength has brought him attention from many programs throughout the southeast, favors Vanderbilt — though he understands that, because VU has so few scholarships available in this class, a scholarship offer will be tough to come by. Hometown Furman, Coach Bobby Johnson's previous employer, is also recruiting Beckler.
"They [Furman] are in a very similar situation with, I think, 12 seniors this year. I have gotten the same response from them as I have from the coaches at Vanderbilt. They both need a kicker, but scholarships are thin, so they are evaluating their circumstances and will let me know."
As Vandy fans well know, a place kicker's adjustment from high school — where you can place kick from a block — and college can be difficult to project. However, Scott regularly kicks from grass in practice. "I kickoff from a tee, and kick field goals from a 2-inch block. However, I have tried kicking off of the ground, and have minimal trouble doing so. Today in practice I worked on kicking off the ground and was just as consistent when kicking from a 2-inch block.
"My kicks normally have a high trajectory from the tee, so it really doesnt hurt too much going to the ground.I consistently kickoff about 5 yards or more into the endzone (about 85% this year and 78% last year). I do also punt. My average last year was about 39 yds as well as this year. My longest punt this year was 54 yards, which hit on the 1 yd line and died on the 3."
After asking a few questions, it becomes easy to see how Beckler and Vandy found each other: Two of Hanna's coaches — head coach Fe Cowen, and Corey Holden — played for Coach Johnson at Furman. "Coach Johnson was the defensive coordinator while I played at Furman from '85-88," says Cowen, who was an OT at Furman. "He was and still is one of the most intense coaches that I have ever been around. Defensively, we knew we were going to be in every game whether we were playing Georgia Tech or Florida State."
Adds Holden, who played DE at Furman: "Coach Johnson 's intensity and dedication on the field was unmatched. His leadership and guidance off the field was even more impressive. He expected the best from us and received it."
Cowen, who fields a lot of Beckler's recruiting calls, and has told Scott that the coaches at South Carolina have him as their #1 kicking prospect. Pittsburgh has made Scott an offer to enroll a year from this coming January, then play the following year. Beckler also reveices calls and regular mail from local 1-AA programs Presbyterian and Wofford, as well as MTSU and Chattanooga.
Scott gets a lot of practice kicking extra points: his Hanna High School team features Rafael Little, one of the top running back prospects in the country. According to Rivals.com, Little — who has already rushed for more than 1200 yards this season — has received offers from Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee. Hanna has had several students go on to major D1 football, including Preston Jones, a quarterback at University of Georgia; Blake Williamson, a QB at University of South Carolina; and Chuck Allen, a lineman for USC.
Another interesting little tidbit: Hanna High School was the place where the movie "Radio" was filmed.
Though Beckler left Nashville very impresseed with the school and the program, the odds of him walking on are likely low. "I currently have two sisters at major universities. My oldest sister, Rachel, goes to Clemson, and my other sister, Amanda, goes to USC. I'm pretty sure i would get a little academic financial aid, but that still leaves a LOT of money to cover. This would make it very difficult for me to walk on to a school such as Vanderbilt, which, as you probably know, costs around $40,000/year. Furman, although a smaller school, is also very expensive and is in a very similar situation with scholarships.
This has developed into a whirlwind fall for Beckler, as his reputation grows throughout the area. "I found out today that I was selected as the sole kicker and punter for the South Carolina Shrine Bowl team! This is definately the most exciting week of my life. I guess the only thing left to figure out is where I will finally end up going to college." We'll keep in touch with Scott to see if that answer involves the Commodores.