PRATTVILE, Ala. – This offseason, Prattville High School was in the news due to its satellite camp affiliation with the University of Michigan during the summer. Since that time, a high degree of focus has surrounded the Lions and Prattville stands 5-3 after eight contests.
“As a team, we are doing all right,” senior kicker A.J. Reed told Today’s U. “We started the season really strong at 5-1 and then here lately we’ve been struggling. I think we are getting back into the grind and I think we are going to be fine. With a win next week, we will be in the playoffs.”
Checking in at 5’11” and 175-pounds, Reed is ranked as a 2-star kicker according to 247Sports.com. Reed, who is the No. 10 kicker in the country, says that he has had a “pretty good” year despite some earlier malfunctions.
“Early in the year we had some operation miscues and we had to sharpen that up,” Reed said. “Lately, I think I’ve been really good and I think I’m like 5-7 on my last few attempts. My only misses were from 46 and 53, so that’s good. My kickoffs have been good all year.”
Apart from the skills positions that receive a lot of attention, Reed says that success as a kicker is highly dependent on preparation.
“Honestly, technique and working out is a big part of it in the offseason,” Reed said. “During the season, you’re not really going to get much better than you were in the beginning, so it’s pretty much 80-percent mental is how you perform during the season. You have to visualize success when you walk on the field and not let anything get to you while you’re out there and focus and you’ll do good.”
As a senior handling all kicking duties for Prattville, Reed handles field goals, extra points and kickoffs for his team. Reed broke down the process and described what is different about a field goal as opposed to a kickoff.
“A field goal really, I just try to keep my mind blank and not even really think about being in a game,” Reed said. “I just try to think about kicking a ball through the uprights like I’m out there by myself. With a kickoff, I like to get hyped up with the crowd because everybody’s yelling and it’s just fun. You let the adrenaline go and try to hit it out the back of the end zone.”
Reed, a highly touted kicker throughout the recruiting process, had what he called a “crazy” recruiting process.
“I think about January of this year I got ranked as the No. 6 kicker in the nation and that got some interest from a lot of the colleges nation-wide,” Reed said. “I have really good grades. I have a 32 on the ACT and a 4.0 with my grades, so that really helps too.
“I talked to a few schools and this summer I narrowed it down to about five. I visited all those schools and kicked for the coaching staffs. When I went to Duke, they saw me kick and were really impressed. They offered me on the spot. I just knew that was a home for me because of the combination of great athletics and great football. It can’t be beat anywhere else and I really the like coaching staff and it feels like home.”
In addition to the academic advantages of attending college at Duke, Reed noticed that the coaching staff in Durham is top notch and commented on his connection with the Blue Devils’ staff.
“[Dave Cutcliffe] is a great guy. I love what he’s doing with the program. His players really believe in what he’s doing there. I would have to say the biggest thing would be the coaches. I really like what they believe in there. I think they have some good values and they are good football coaches honestly and they have that program headed in the right direction.”
The future Duke commit says that he is “confident” in kicking from 53-yards and in, while his career long in practice is upwards of 63-yards.