Every Saturday in the fall some team ends up losing because of a poor kicking game. At one time many D-I schools would handle their kicking duties with preferred walk-ons, who would have to earn their scholie.
More and more, D-I schools are offering scholarships to kickers, because the best ones are difference makers. During the waning seconds of a tight ballgame, many games are won or lost on the performance of the placekicker.
One kicker who appears to be an early offer guy is Alejandro Maldonado (5-11, 190) from Colton, Calif., high school.
"Alejandro is probably the best kicking prospect in California if not the Nation," Colton coach Harold Strauss said. "He works out with the same private coach who tutored Alexis Serna (Groza award winner for Oregon State) to get ready for the D-I level, and he said that Alejandro is farther along at the same stage than Alexis."
"Alejandro has a very strong leg," Strauss said. "He hits field goals from over 60 yards. He hit three from 50 yards and he didn't miss an attempt from over 40 yards as a junior. He was a perfect 32-32 on PAT's."
"What makes Alejandro the real deal is he's also a D-I punter," Strauss said. "He had two punts of over 70 yards and has incredible hang time. He is also very accurate pinning the opposition inside the 20."
"Alejandro has a great work ethic," Strauss said. "He works just as hard as the rest of the players."
"A lot of times, kickers will get their work in and that would be at practice. Alejandro literally kicks for three hours or for however long we are practicing."
"We would like to play Alejandro at outside linebacker, but he's too valuable as a placekicker/punter," Strauss said. "But he could easily play linebacker for us. He's a dream to coach."
"We hear through the grapevine that USC and Arizona are going to offer," Strauss said. "Pretty much every school in the Pac 10 that needs a kicker will offer."
Maldonado averaged 39.3 yards per punt his junior season and pinned 13 punts inside the 20. He also had 36 touchbacks kicking off and had 10 field goals on the season.
Besides Arizona and USC, other schools that are showing interest are California, UCLA, Washington and Colorado.