July 21, 2012

Freibert ready to 'kick-off' his Army career

The 2nd wave representing Army 2012 recruiting class continues to make their closer and closer to the destination point, which is the campus of West Point.

Unlike the initial group, the players who will congregate together for the first time on Sunday at head coach Rich Ellerson's home for a team cookout ... will officially experience their R-Day on Monday. This is the balance of players, actually the majority of players of the Black Knights' 2012 class, who are USMAPS bound.

One of those players is kicker/punter Ralph Freibert out of New Orleans (La.) Jesuit High School. Like his prep school predecessor, Daniel Grochowski (6'2", 205), Freibert tips the scales at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds and looks more like a strong safety than kicker.

But either way, he has a solid leg and like Grochowski, the hope is that his year at the prep school will allow him to refine his talents and make his presence felt in 2013.

GoBlackKnights.com caught up with Freibert, who has made his way from Louisiana, along with his family to the Big Apple.

"I'm in New York right now and i'm staying at the Marriott in the city," shares Freibert, who is making his 3rd to New York City with one being for my official visit. "We are going to stay here for two days and then head up to West Point on Sunday.

Of course, Freibert's pre R-Day theme is consistent with most of his future teammates. "I'm a little anxious, not knowing exactly what's going to happen, but at the same time excited because I wanted this for a long time," adds Freibert, who will be coming face to face with a lifelong dream. "I guess a little sad because I'm leaving all my buddies ... some of them since I was 5 years old, some of them since high school, the kids that I've grown up with. A lot of them are going to college together and I'm here by myself ... but I'm still looking forward to it. But I'm really looking forward to this, because I've wanted to do this for a very long time. When I got into high school, I didn't have a 4.2 or 4.5 GPA like some kids that were going to West Point. So I thought that my dream of going to West Point kind of faded. But then getting the football scholarship with my grades that I had really help and I now can do what I wanted to do since 5th grade."

But the other theme with this incoming class has been their ability to bond prior to officially coming together as teammates. "Actually, I have spoken to several of my future teammates," he states. "Two of the kids that are in my squad ... one of them is Lofi (Tamasese), he is in my squad and he actually took his visit the same time as I did and that's pretty cool. Brandan Carletti-Silva, he was also on the visit when I was there and we ended up in the same group during our official visit. We just got to talk back then, where we got to know each other and have been texting back & forth since we took our visit."

At Jesuit, Freibert handled both the kicking and punting duties, so it will be interested to see how the staff will utilize his leg skills. "I'm coming in to do both kicking and punting," says Freibert, who his on 9/13 field goals his senior year, along with compiling a punting average of 39 yards whereby half (16/32) of his punts landed inside the 10 yard line. His longest field was from 47 yards out. I'm pretty good at placing the ball (punting) if we happen to be too far for a field goal attempt.

In high school, kickers typically don't face much if any competition at all. However, at the collegiate level, it is an entirely different ball game and Freibert not only understand that fact, but welcomes the opportunity to compete.

"I think that competition helps," he declared. "I mean, I know when I go to camps ... like Nike camps and stuff like that. Well, I have a kid whose ranked nationally and you get stuck in a group with a kid who is #15 in the nation, a kid who's #5 in the nation and you're #20 ... and it's just good to push yourself where you strive to be better. I feel that the better the competition around the better you perform and the better the team will perform."

It is clear that newcomers to the program like Grochowski and Freibert himself ... both have the physical tools to effectively compete at this level. However, part of being an above average Division I kicker is as much mental as it is physical, where one bad kick or bad game can see a kicker turn from good to bad. Freibert offered his perspective on how to battle through those types of adverse moments that most kicker have or will encounter in their respective careers.

"As a kicker, you can't dwell on missing," conceits Freibert. "It's not like a normal position where you have four downs to get your goal or four downs to get the ball through the up-rights ... you have one. It's part of the game where kickers are going to miss, you're going to have a bad kick, you're going to have a bad day. If at practice I'm having a bad day, that's the day that I kick a lot less because I don't want to pick up bad habits. If I'm at a game and I have a bad kick, I'm probably going to get a little mad, but I promise you I won't miss another one for the rest of the game. But it (misses) happens ... you know, quarterbacks throw interceptions, DB's get burned, punter shank punts and kickers miss field goals. It's not what you look for, not what you want obviously, but it happens and it's just part of it. And yes, kicking's just as much mental as it is physical, so you have to be mentally tough and be able to just keep on rolling even if you have a bad day."

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