Kickers are often the forgotten players of modern football, the specialists who few pay much attention to until the game is on the line and their team needs a field goal to win.
But even on a loaded South Pointe (SC) team, it's senior kicker BT Potter who turns heads.
A Clemson commit, Potter has made waves in the Rock Hill, SC, area for several years as a nationally recognized prospect with astronomical range, which he will next test against Buford (GA) at home on Friday night. But Potter doesn't stand out from his peers -- at least physically.
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At 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, Potter is often overlooked by people at first glance. That changes when he begins to warm up. With mechanics in mind, Potter starts by planting his feet and kicking several field goals without any run-up. It's then a one-step approach, something he says gets him back to the basics of kicking.
From there, it's on to full-speed practice kicks, sometimes from 50, 55, or even 60 yards. In a typical session, he'll hit seven or eight out of 10 from that distance.
Potter's career long in competition is a school-record 49-yarder that he nailed last season with room to spare, but he recently connected from 71 yards out in practice. Even more impressively, Potter kicks off the ground.
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Most high school kickers use a tee for added accuracy and power, but since his sophomore year, Potter has elected to kick without one.
"I started working with a coach who got us to work off of the ground to prepare for us for college, and I've just kept doing it the past two seasons," Potter said.
It's one of several things Potter does with college rules in mind. When warming up for kickoffs, Potter routinely kicks from the 35-yard line in anticipation of the extra distance he'll need at the next level.
At the high school level, though, Potter gets to kick off from the 40-yard line, and unsurprisingly, the ball rarely stays in the yard. In a scrimmage earlier this season, the Clemson pledge put 4 of 5 kickoffs through the uprights. The other was just off, missing slightly left. As a junior, Potter kicked off 105 times; 95 went for touchbacks. It's a talent he doesn't take lightly.
"My coaches always tell me it helps our defense out tremendously," Potter said. "I always try my hardest on kickoffs because it can really make or break a game."
Against Buford (GA), his ability to keep the ball out of the hands of Wolves return specialist Anthony Grant on kickoffs and punts could be one of the keys to a South Pointe win.
Potter is quietly confident in his ability. When asked what he would tell Stallions head coach Strait Herron his range is with the game on the line, Potter gave an honest answer.
"I'll tell him I want to be as close as we can be, but I'll take whatever he gives me," Potter said. "A walk-off 50-plus yarder would be amazing."
Potter has been committed to Clemson since the beginning of June when he was offered a scholarship as a place-kicker -- a testament to his talent -- and has not wavered from his commitment since.
Despite the attention his play has attracted, Potter has stayed remarkably humble, continuing to work hard day in and day out to become a better player. As a kicker, the transition from high school to college might not be as difficult as some of other positions, but Potter will face his share of challenges.
"I think my biggest thing I will be working on is kicking in front of 70-80,000 every week," Potter said. "I love pressure and I feel like I do better in front of people, but going from 5,000 to 81,500 is gonna be a huge jump."
Still, Potter is a rare talent with the potential to be another great kicker at a school that has churned out talent at the position in recent years. If he continues to develop, his name could be one we hear on Sundays.
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