By Will Johnson
ELKHART – For the second time in a week, an Elkhart Elk has signed a National Letter of Intent to take his prowess on the football field to Howard Payne University.
Last Friday, D.J. Williams signed his letter of intent with Howard Payne and this week, he was joined on the Yellow Jackets’ roster by Jacob Walters.
After he had inked his name, Walters said, as the Elks’ placekicker, he was surprised when he was first contacted by Howard Payne.
“I’ve heard that a lot of kickers don’t really get a chance to go to the next level, especially from a Class 3A school. I didn’t think I would really get the opportunity to go kick somewhere. When I found out, I was pretty excited about it. I thought it would be really unique to be able to play a few more years,” he said.
In his senior year, Walters converted 26 of 26 extra points and was five of six on field goal attempts.
Walters explained he became interested in kicking because of his dad.
“He was really big into kicking and he got an offer from some school but said he always felt they didn’t really want him and didn’t treat him very well. He passed his love of kicking on to me and one day at practice – when I lived in Willis – the coaches asked who could kick a field goal. I said I thought I could and they got me started and practicing every day,” he said.
Asked what he would say to anyone interested in learning how to kick, Walters said it really wasn’t as difficult as people made it out to be.
“Form is the number thing you have to think about. It’s like a free throw in basketball. You have to be consistent with every single kick. If you take three steps back and two steps to the side like I do, then you have to do it every time. The more consistent you are, the more accurate you will be,” he explained.
Walters said he plans to major at business while at Howard Payne.
“This is exciting for us to have kids moving to the next level. We have been pretty fortunate in the past few years to have quite a few kids move on and play at the next level, especially for a kicker. It doesn’t happen very often and there are not a lot of kickers out there. He’s definitely one of the good ones,” Elkhart Athletic Director Sam Wells added.
“Jake has a special talent. He can kick the ball and has a super strong leg. He’s tall and rangy, which probably helps, but he’s so accurate. He has a skill a lot of kids don’t have,” he said.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.