As a senior kicker and punter at Montgomery Bell Academy, Bryant Hahnfeldt made 17 of 22 field goals, averaged 39.5 yards per punt, kicked ninety-five percent of his kickoffs into the end zone, and was voted Tennessee's Special Teams Mr. Football. Impressed by this remarkable resume, Head Coach Bobby Johnson offered Hahnfeldt the opportunity to bring his talents down West End Avenue to Dudley Field and Vanderbilt University. He accepted, choosing Vanderbilt over walk-on offers from Alabama and cross-state rival Tennessee.
Hahnfeldt was MBA's starting place-kicker for three years, and was the team's starting punter his for two years. Although he may be "grey-shirted", officially making him a member of the signing class of 2006, should a scholarship become available, he will join the rest to today's signees in training camp in August.
Whenever he arrives on Vanderbilt's campus, Hahnfeldt should be given the opportunity to compete for a starting position. Abtin Iranmanesh's graduation leaves vacancies in both the punting and kickoff positions. Since Vanderbilt place-kickers have made only fifty percent of their field goals over the past two seasons, the coaching staff may be looking to make a change at that position. Hahnfeldt excelled at all three positions in high school and is eager to draw on the wealth of experience he gained at MBA while vying for playing time.
AK: Having watched him his whole career at MBA, tell us what kind of kicker Hahnfeldt is and how strong a leg you think he has?
"He's got a strong leg as evidenced by the fact that 95 % of his kickoffs went into the end zone. As a freshman in high school he had a fifty yard field goal bounce off the cross bar, most freshmen cannot even get it close. He gets the ball up well on his field goals, and gets good hang time on his kickoffs and punts."
AK: How hard is it to make that transition from kicking off the tee in high school to the ground in college? Do you think he will have problems with it?
"There's no way to tell how he's going to adjust to kicking off the ground, but he's being coached by the same person who helped me make the transition. Joe Davis does a really good job and has been doing this for over 10 years now so that should help him".
AK: What is really the key to making that transition from the tee to the turf?
"It really just takes practice. When you are kicking off a tee you position your plant foot farther back which makes it easier to get the ball up. When you move to kicking off the ground you have to be more precise with your plant foot and with how you strike the ball. You really just have to work at it to get some confidence. You can actually be more accurate kicking off the ground but often young guys have a tendency to try and undercut the ball a bit because they are concerned with trying to get their kicks up high enough. It's really just a matter of practicing it gaining confidence with it."
AK: You coach at Ray Guy camps all across the country every year, percentage-wise where do you think Hahnfelt ranks as far as the top kicking talent out there?
"Well, he's actually been to one of the Ray Guy camps and he won both the long distance field goal competition and the punting competition. I'd say he stacks up very well with any of the top kickers I have seen out there."
AK: You mentioned his ability to place kick and punt. What do you feel like is his strong suit or could he end up doing both in college as you did?
"Last season I felt like punting was probably his strength but he had such a good year this past year going 17 of 22 that I'm not real sure. He's very capable at both and could do both in college. A lot of kickers do both punting and place kicking so I certainly think it's possible for him to do it in college".
Vandysports.com would like to extend a special thank you to former Dore John Markham for lending us his time and expertise for this article.