SU kicker ready to make impact
By Brad Fauber
WINCHESTER — When a high school student, athlete or not, makes the transition to college life, it is generally expected that the workload that they were once accustomed to will increase, whether it be on the field or in the classroom.
Jordan Umstead may be a rare exception, at least when it comes to the work required of him on the football field.
Umstead, a former running back, linebacker and kicker/punter for Central’s football team, signed with Shenandoah University’s football program this summer and will be tasked with one responsibility — kick the football.
“I only have one job right now, so it’s a lot easier than high school,” Umstead said. “I’m real comfortable. I don’t have to do as much, just kick. Back in high school I played three other positions. It’s definitely a lot easier.”
Umstead was the lone punter/kicker in a Hornets recruiting class of 40 players under new head football coach Scott Yoder, and with the graduation of former all-Old Dominion Athletic Conference punter Cory Gay, Umstead knew he stood a good chance at seeing time on the field as a freshman.
What Umstead didn’t expect, however, was being called upon to handle place-kicking and kickoffs, as well. But with fellow freshman kicker Tim Frye still battling a nagging back injury after missing all of last season for medical reasons, Umstead now finds himself as the Hornets’ top field goal kicking option in 2013.
“About a week before training camp started, coach Brock [McCullough] had called me and said ‘Hey, you’re also going to be doing kickoffs and field goals,'” Umstead recalled. “… He called me to make sure that I wasn’t going to be shocked when I got into training camp and they threw me right in.”
“[It] was a polite suggestion to start kicking, just because we did not have a true kicker, so we had to kind of manufacture one. He’s done a good job,” Yoder said.
Umstead, who said his field goal range extends to about 40 yards, entered fall camp in competition with Frye for the place-kicking duties before Frye was officially ruled out for Saturday’s season opener against Gallaudet earlier this week.
Umstead said he and Frye quickly formed a friendship when Umstead found out he would be competing for the place-kicking spot, and the Edinburg native said he has learned plenty from Frye during the first few weeks of practice.
“He’s actually been a great help. He’s been coaching me up more that what I’ve had in the past,” Umstead said. “It definitely helps having an older guy on the team, someone who has been here longer.”
Those tips and pointers from Frye has helped Umstead quickly get comfortable his role with the Hornets, which is a good sign for Yoder.
Yoder praised Umstead’s performance in fall camp and last Saturday’s scrimmage against Gettysburg, although Yoder expressed some concern about the special teams units as a whole simply due to the fact that they don’t get as much live practice as the offense and defense.
“Special teams at the Division III level are so important because we all play by the Division I rules, but at the Division III level there are not that many kids that can kick it into the end zone,” Yoder said. “I think what you find is that you really put your offense and defense in a bad position when you’re not good in the kicking game at this level.”
Umstead recently found out he will share the punting duties with starting quarterback and fellow freshman Justin Neff, who learned on Wednesday that he will spend some significant time in that role, and there will likely be competition for the kicking duties if Frye gets healthy.
Still, Yoder is confident that Umstead will see the field one way or another.
“There is no doubt that he’ll have an impact,” Yoder said. “Whether he’s our punter and our kicker, or just our punter, just our kicker … he’s going to help us this year.”
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD