Unlike his booming, line-drive kicks that rocket off his foot, Andrew Endicott found his route to college football fraught with twists and turns.
The Jesuit High School graduate planned to walk on as a freshman at Nevada, understanding that kickers rarely receive scholarships. Then assistant coach Jeff Genyk, Endicott's connection to the program, left Nevada to join Wisconsin's staff. Endicott kept in touch with Genyk, and the conversation led to a campus visit in Madison.
It was love at first sight.
"Here I am," Endicott exclaimed.
Endicott wasn't on the Badgers' travel team to start the season, but he was pulled off the bench to kick off against visiting Purdue last week, and his four kicks averaged 60.6 yards with one touchback. In an effort to negate return-specialist speed, Wisconsin suddenly has a keeper in the 5-foot-9, 165-pound Endicott, generally the smallest guy on the field.
Next for Wisconsin (3-1) is No. 4 Ohio State (4-0) today in Columbus (Ch. 10, 5:07 p.m.), where the crowd will again be a factor.
"I just have to perform," Endicott said.
Don't think kickers are a big deal?
In big-time college football, every player is a celebrity. On the eve of the season, Endicott befriended a 6-year-old fan who was thrilled during a locker-room tour and while shagging kicks at a workout. The fan, Ryan Ehlert, mailed Endicott a letter of appreciation and mementos for his locker.
Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said even three-fourths of a second of extra hang time can allow players to race in on coverage plays. Endicott's hang time against Purdue was 3.3 seconds, as good as can be expected.
"Endicott did a nice job, hanging the ball up in the air (against Purdue)," Andersen said this week in a news conference. "He got himself on the airplane (to make the travel team), and away he goes. Now we expect him to compete and kick at a high level."
Longtime athletic director, physical education teacher and volleyball coach Justin Gatling of Sacramento High was named Educator of the Year for St. HOPE schools during Thursday's annual fundraiser. Among Gatling's perks was a chance to "ham it up" with Charles Barkley, the keynote speaker and a longtime friend of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a Sacramento High grad.
And, no, Barkley did not bench-press Johnson's wife, Michelle Rhee, like Shaquille O'Neal did to Gov. Jerry Brown's wife, Anne Gust Brown, on Monday.
"Great honor, and a real shock to win this," Gatling said. "And Barkley had the place roaring. The place was hysterical."
Showdown in Eugene
Stephen Moore of Elk Grove is one of 13 freshman starters for Cal, which plays No. 2 Oregon today (7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network). As the left guard, part of Moore's job is to protect fellow freshman Jared Goff, who leads the nation in passing yards per game (435).
Cal defensive tackle Vei Moala of Grant will have to keep pace with the no-huddle, quick-strike Ducks. The same goes for Oregon defensive end Arik Armstead of Pleasant Grove, whose unit takes on Cal's "Bear Raid" offense that aims to run an exhaustive 100 plays a game. The Bears (1-2) have run 284 plays in their first three games.
The Bee's Joe Davidson and SureWest Sports' Mike Finnerty break down high school football on ESPN1320 from 9-10 a.m. every Saturday.