Four days in cleats: my experience trying out for Tulane football

Max Meyer, Staff Reporter

Everyone has a dream growing up. Some kids want to fly to the moon. Others want to be a firefighter or police officer. My goal was to play in the National Football League. Just a week ago, I took my first step towards that goal when I tried out for the Tulane football team.

Where does a 5’7″, 150-pound ginger menace fit in on a football field, you may ask. You guessed it: kicker. With my glorified high school soccer career behind me, I was clearly a shoe-in for the Green Wave’s Division I football program.

I thought, “How hard could it really be?” Well, it proved to be tougher than the pigskin of the first football I shanked into the stands.

Several weeks ago every Tulane student received an email from the Tulane Athletics Department about walk-on tryouts. I took this opportunity to see if I had what it took to play Division I football.

14 other dreamers and I decided we were going to be on ESPN in just a few months. There was just one thing in my way: I had zero idea how to kick a football.

Feb. 23

We begin the process with a meeting at 7:15 a.m. Feb. 23 in the student center. The coaching staff goes over medical guidelines, a 10-page packet on concussions and expectations for walk-ons. We are told to email our class schedule and get a physical examination as well as a sickle cell test completed within the week if we want to get on the field and show we are deserving of the Green Wave jersey.

Feb. 29

We have the official tryout. 13 people out of the original 15 return. We run a 40-yard dash to begin. The students not trying out for special teams have the rest of their tryout that day with the positions coaches. They cannot use footballs, per NCAA guidelines, so they do different drills without a football. I get a fist bump from head coach Willie Fritz after I decimated the 40-yard dash, should I have tried out for running back?

March 4

I have my solo kicking practice before the tryout with another hopeful kicker. We head out to Yulman Stadium at 8 a.m. that day. He runs me through the mechanics of kicking. I am not a star quite yet, nor do I have any idea of what I am doing but I am not giving up.

March 28

My tryout day finally arrives. I have not prepared properly and I am nervous about embarrassing myself in front of the coaches and athletes. My tryout is scheduled for 7:15 a.m. with the team and I show up to find out it has been moved to 1 p.m. The anticipation is killing me and my nerves are starting to get the best of me.

I camouflage myself in as much Tulane athletics and Nike gear as I can find in hopes of fitting in with the scholarship kickers, but I don’t think that was too successful. The frame of my body and glasses reveal my disguise … or maybe it is my florescent yellow cleats.

As I jog onto the grass of Yulman Stadium to join the special teams unit, Chris Couch, the kicking coach, hands me a football. Finally, it is time to prove myself.

I start off by pacing backwards with the calculated steps I had practiced, taking a deep breath and staring down the ball. I approach it with a fury of speed and determination as well as some nerves. I drill my first kick through the uprights, beginner’s luck. Then, I hit another one perfectly. And another. The coaches pushes me back, and I hit a 30-yard field goal from the middle of the field, the right hash and the left. I end up making nine out of my 14 field goal attempts. Overall, I am elated with my performance.

I leave tryouts knowing that I would not make the team. I am incredibly surprised, however, by the fact that I did not humiliated myself. When the other kickers and coaches tell me “good job,” I know I would not be the laughing stock of the football team.

While I will not be kicking on Sundays for the NFL in the foreseeable future, my performance at tryouts validated what I had achieved.

Tulane has gained a new Athletic Director, head football coach and head basketball coach within the last four months. There is a lot of change in the athletic department, but I guess they did not see it fit to add a new kicker. Where do I go from here? Better start shooting hoops, I guess. I hear Tulane is in need of a new guard.

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