By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – Kyle Federico has mixed emotions when it comes to making his debut as Rutgers’ kicker Saturday night against Tulane. The true freshman has a combination of enthusiasm and butterflies going into his first collegiate game.
“I like having a little bit of nerves. I think it’s normal for everybody to have a little bit of nerves, but mostly excitement,” Federico told SNY.tv after practice this week. “I’m definitely excited to get going with the season.”
While the Ponte Vedra, FL native has been here longer than any other freshman because he enrolled at Rutgers in the spring semester, the game does seem to have crept up out of nowhere.
“We came back for summer workouts and it feels like it’s going to take for ever for the season to come,” Federico said. “And as soon as you know it, summer’s over and you’re going into training camp and as soon as you know it you’re going into the first week of practice going into the game.”
Prior to kickoff, he’ll do the same thing he did before scrimmages.
“Just kind of chill out and listen to music,” Federico said. “Go through my notes and go through what’s important on my main focuses on my form and what I have to do to make kicks”
He’ll also try not to think about the pressure that can rest on a kicker’s shoulders. Although he knows it’ll be there considering he’ll be trotting out for his first kicks as a college player.
“Definitely a little bit,” Federico said when asked if he’d be feeling the pressure. “But I think going through training camp and even last spring, coach Flood and the coaching staff did a good job with a lot of pressure situations and pressure kicks.”
To take some of the edge off, Federico — who will kick field goals and extra points, but not kickoffs — has the luxury of not having to worry about the elements. Kicking indoors in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is the ideal way to start his career and gain some confidence moving forward.
The comfort of the dome, along with his outings in practice, has given his head coach reassurance despite having a green kicker.
“But we’re very comfortable with Kyle’s leg,” Flood said. “He’s done a good job this season and certainly the conditions will be optimal being inside the Superdome so that should be a non-factor Flood said. “His performance has been extremely consistent in preseason so we’re excited to see what he can go out there and do.”