Freshman Colton Schmidt has made a name for himself on the football team so far this season.
The Bakersfield, Calif. native and starting punter is not only outperforming expectations but filling a void in the kicking and special teams game that the Aggies have lacked in prior years. He has punted 37 times this year for an average of 39.9 yards and pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line 13 of those times.
Before UC Davis’ big matchup against rival Cal Poly for the Golden Horseshoe, Schmidt sat down with Aggie Staff Writer Richard Procter to talk about how he began kicking, the “perfect kick” and possibly a career in football after graduation.
Why are you a punter? How do you get into punting?
I just grew up playing soccer and played club soccer year round. I just got burned out as a kid and wanted to play something else. I played football and then at practice they asked, “Who’s played soccer? Who can kick the football?” and that’s how I got started. I started out as a kicker and I just did all three in high school.
What do you tell yourself after a bad kick? Do you think about it?
I don’t ponder on getting in a rut or something bad. I think about what I did wrong on that [kick] and how I need to get myself back in a good rhythm and get the next kick to be a good one. Every time I get a bad kick in the game I feel like I have to go get another good kick to finish the game. For example, in this past game [Southern Utah] the field was throwing me off. I kept getting stuck in the mud and wet grass. It had snowed and melted. At first it was throwing off my rhythm and I didn’t feel like I was versatile enough yet for that. We’ve been playing on turf a lot this season. But each punt just got better after that and then I got a really good punt on my last one.
Do you have a favorite moment from this season so far?
No, not really. Every time I have a good game or a really good moment, I just feel like I have to better that one. To my standards, I feel like I haven’t had any super spectacular games or what I like to call a perfect game when I have flat-out perfect kicks. I’ve only had one game like that and it was in senior year of high school. If I have one bad kick and four perfect kicks the one bad one outweighs everything else.
How do you know whether it’s a perfect kick?
You can tell as soon as it hits your foot. If you hit the sweet spot, it feels like nothing happened. It’s kind of hard to describe. You don’t even really know what happens but you look up and the ball is just gone. Kind of like a field goal. You know if you make it or not. You pretty much know as soon as it hits your foot.
Is it the same whether you’re trying for a short kick or a long one?
Yeah, essentially. The only difference is that on a short kick you’re trying to get as much height as you can.
What are you going to do after you graduate? Or do you know yet?
Maybe go to grad school or see what my options are. I’m thinking about law school right now. I feel like the four years is going to go by fast, but it’s also a lot of time for things to change. I don’t want to make any commitments because anything could happen.
Do you think you could have a professional career?
Well, right now I’m still seeing where everything is going to take place. I feel like if I do practice enough and try and get better, then I will have the chance to. I would like the chance to leave it resolved, you know? After the four years I’d like to know where it took me. I don’t want to have any “what ifs”. I think I could have a shot if I just keep practicing enough and keep getting better every day. I just take it one week at a time.
RICHARD PROCTER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.