Big Foot's kicker, top punting prospect, boasts big leg
It's not often a high school football game features four field goal attempts totaling 195 yards.
If you're Big Foot head coach Rodney Wedig, however, you've got very little to lose when it comes to attempting long kicks.
Wedig has senior Ian Gallagher in his arsenal. Gallagher is one of the top 30 Class of 2014 punting prospects in the country according to Kohl's camps, and while he couldn't connect on his four long attempts in Friday's 35-0 victory at Evansville, he showed off his powerful leg.
“In practice, my longest has been 65 so far, so hopefully I can be accurate this year under 50,” said Gallagher, who has rarely been called upon to punt or kick field goals for the usually high-scoring Chiefs. “Above 50 it's a little tougher, but under 50 should be automatic for me.”
His first attempt on Friday night—his longest effort, from 52 yards—may have had the distance but was just wide right.
Gallagher also sent each of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
“My leg's more powerful than accurate,” he said. “My thing in soccer was crossing the ball in.”
It's not rare for a soccer player to transition into kicking for a football team, but Gallagher had never played football until his freshman year.
His buddy and former Chiefs kicker, Sean Kivlin, convinced him to give it a shot.
“Everything I learned from the beginning was from Sean,” Gallagher said. “It just felt right.”
“He works really hard,” Wedig said. “He's good enough that we could probably put him at wide receiver, but he's so valuable I don't want him to get hurt. He didn't punt (Friday night), but he's just as good of a punter.”
Gallagher hopes he can parlay his rapid rise to success on the high school field into an opportunity at the college level.
He participated in camps at Alabama and Arkansas this summer, touring the campuses and meeting the coaching staffs. Kivlin also helped Gallagher connect with Jamie Kohl—a 1994 first-team all-state kicker in Wisconsin—and Kohl's kicking camps early on.
Kohl's ranks punters, kickers and snappers that are deemed capable of playing at the next level, and Gallagher participated in one of the group's camps in Florida this year. Gallagher was rated the No. 29 punter in rankings released at the end of July.
“My first camp I went to, I wasn't very good,” Gallagher admitted. “I didn't stand out. I realized, 'I want to get better.'
“We have 500 kids in our school, so no one's going to look at me. Jamie Kohl has helped me so much.”
Gallagher had spoken with a Division I coach as recently as Friday, but the process is a bit different for specialists than other players when it comes to recruiting.
“He's gotten a lot of mail, but kicking recruiting is so unique,” Wedig said. “Normally they only carry one roster guy, so they want you to walk on and win the job.”
Gallagher believes his best shot may come as a punter, due to his powerful leg.
And when it comes to goals, he's aiming high.
“My real dream is to play on and on and go as high as I can,” Gallagher said. “The NFL would be crazy. But if there was a level above the NFL, I would try to go there.”