Spicer relishes role as Wildcats’ specialist

Posted by kornblue - April 16, 2015

He looked like a quarterback, out there during a recent afternoon practice, tossing warm-up passes and standing tall and lean with a white towel folded and tucked in the back of his mesh blue practice shorts.

Is he a quarterback? Well, he used to be. Jack Spicer has been a lot of things. For the Estero High School football team, he’s been a quarterback, a tight end, a wide receiver and a punter. For the Estero baseball team, he’s been a pitcher and an outfielder.

But he can’t be all things. Spicer learned that painful lesson. In his case, it was a broken clavicle after diving for a baseball hit to him last January. The doctors put a plate in his right shoulder and the recovery lasted five weeks.

“I made the catch,” Spicer says.

After that injury, Spicer readjusted. He’s not a baseball player anymore. And his shoulder limited his abilities as receiver and tight end. Now, entering his senior season on the football team, Spicer is focused on his role as the team’s starting punter, a position he’s held for the past year.

Spicer’s coach said it’s an under appreciated role.

“One of our goals on offense is no three-and-outs, so we try to get a couple of first downs,” coach Mark Jackson said. “But if we have to flip the field then it’s a great opportunity to use (Spicer) as a weapon.

“He’s a huge weapon for us.”

“Here we go, that way, punt team!” coach Mark Jackson yells during practice on a scalding hot Thursday afternoon.

Jack Spicer trouts out onto the field. He’s wearing a dark blue jersey and shorts with tall camouflage socks and gray Nike cleats. But there’d be no sign of the punting leg that’s garnered Spicer some recent acclaim.

The team was only doing simulations, but Spicer’s 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame still stood out.

Later, he was practicing taking long snaps on the sideline. The first one is low and forces him to take two steps laterally.

“Its off to the right,” Spicer says.

The next one is a tight spiral right at him.

“There you go.”

Spicer said he dedicated his entire off-season to punting. His best chance of playing at the next level, he says is as a specialist. During the summer, Spicer attended kicking caps hosted by former University of Michigan play and Bonita Springs resident Brandon Kornblue.

Spicer was later named No.5 high school punter in the country by Kornblue’s website, KornblueKicking.com.

When asked what makes his punting stand out, Spicer hesitated, but pointed to his punts’ hang time. He averaged around 40 yards per punt last season, but ensures that his numbers will improve. Spicer said he still needs to work on his flexibility and consistency.

“Just my form, staying straight and stuff that Coach Kornblue taught me,” Spicer said.

That punt is the biggest play in any football game. At least, that’s what Mark Jackson thinks.

“It’s the biggest change of field position in the game,” Jackson said. “If you have a punter who can flip the entire field, it’s huge.

“Special teams are huge in general. They’re so overlooked. I think every coach has a tendency to focus so much on offense or defense, but the biggest field position plays in the game are all on special teams.”

If he’s not using his abilities as a possession receiver to pick up first downs this season, Spicer will be tasked with making the big play with his leg.

For Spicer, there’s a lot on the line. He wants to punt for a Division 1 college, but said he could be only looking at earning a preferred walk-on status somewhere.

The goal for after his senior year, he said, is just to keep punting.

“My goal is to get not necessarily a scholarship, but to get an offer,” Spicer said.

“Just to go to college and punt.”

Published by: Naples Daily News
Written by: Joseph Cranney
August 29, 2014