Mountaineer Fans and House United family, welcome back to ‘Inside the Rock’, a behind-the-scenes blog on App State Football. For those of you that are new, my name is Trey Schaneville and I am a graduate transfer kicker for your Mountaineers, and I am excited to share my experiences within the App State football program with you. Be sure to subscribe for this blog at houseunitedsports.com to be notified new blog posts and upcoming promotions and events.
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The Life of a Specialist
What a great couple of wins at The Rock against Elon and a very good Marshall team! As much fun as we had on the road in Charlotte and Miami, there is nothing that compares to game days in Boone. The crowd was electric, as expected, and it was obvious that our home fans were so excited to be back at The Rock cheering on their Mountaineers in person.
There was a lot of anticipation built up around the Marshall game, both within our locker room and in the college football community. As a primetime game on ESPN, we went into the game with redemption on our minds, as the guys that returned from last year still have a sour taste in their mouths from the previous meeting with them. And, boy, did it live up to the hype! It was a back and forth game that led to a 4th quarter comeback and a CLUTCH field goal by Chandler, a fellow specialist, to give us the lead with only a couple minutes left.
Sometimes, us kickers are left out and forgotten; but when you make big kicks like that one, it’s hard to ignore you. Coming off an exciting finish like that, I thought there is no better time than
now to talk about the life of a specialist, and how we prepare ourselves for those big moments.
Chandler Staton’s 45 yard field goal with 5 minutes left against Marshall, Justin Tucker’s record-breaking 66 yard field goal against the Detroit Lions, and Mason Crosby’s 51 yard game
winning field goal against the 49ers. All of these kicks just happened this past weekend, and there was a ton of excitement around each of them, but what people don’t see is all of the preparation, both mentally and physically, that goes into performing during moments like these.
A key component for our preparation is to always look to improve and perfect our craft. Myself, along with the other specialists on the team, are out at practice anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour and a half before the practice actually starts. We use that time to warm-up properly, work on our drills, and polish up on whatever we feel like needs to improve. Even before then, we are mostly in the training room taking care of ourselves and making sure our bodies are ready to go. Throughout practice, we have plenty of downtime, as the field is being used up by the offense and defense. We probably do enough talking, standing around, and stretching to account for the whole team, but we also use this time to continue to do little drills on the sidelines and help each other improve on whatever area is lacking. Most of the time, too, we stay after practice and get a few more field goal, kickoff, or punting reps while we have the field wide open for us.
Not only is physical preparation important, but I would argue that mental preparation and toughness is even more important. When our number is called, all eyes are on us. If we make it, we did our job. If we miss it, we’re probably the most hated guy on the team until we make the next one. The players that are able to handle that pressure the best are usually the ones that succeed for the longest period of time. Personally, the way I deal with this pressure is by forgetting about all the previous kicks, whether I made or missed them, and fully focusing on the kick at hand. If I make it, I move on and focus on the next one. And if I miss it, I figure out why, move on, and focus on the next one.Before the game last Thursday night, the fan section right behind our specialists group started chanting Chandler’s name, and for good reason, (I think it might’ve been his mom that started
the chant but either way) he was 6 for 6 on the year coming into that game. I remember going up to him and he said, “they love you when you’re making kicks, huh...” The life of a specialist can
be up and down, but controlling your mental and physical preparation can make the ups a little higher and the downs a little shallower.