Alabama Team News

Former Vols kicker James Wilhoit mentoring next generation, include Bama commit

“The Baby-faced assassin” as Wilhoit calls him.

Reichard was in 6th grade when Wilhoit saw him online and reached out to his father Gary. At the time, Wilhoit was working at Mt. Juliet High School in Nashville so Reichard and his father would make the trip from suburban Birmingham to Nashville for training.

At the time, Reichard was interested in playing soccer, but Wilhoit talked him into playing football.

“Even at an early age, he was one of the best kickers I had ever seen,” Wilhoit said of Reichard.

Through kicking, Wilhoit developed a bond with Will and Gary. So much so that when Gary was diagnosed with cancer, he called Wilhoit specifically to tell him to take care of his son. Since then, Wilhoit has been there for Reichard as well as a number of his pupils.

“Kicking is a lonely job,” Wilhoit said. “That’s why camps like mine and others are so important to these young kickers. They develop a bond where they know they can call one another even during the season,”

Reichard and Nebraska commit Barret Pickering have a leg up on the competition as they were both teammates at Hoover High School in Alabama. Along with them, Indiana kicker Charles Campbell has also learned under Wilhoit.

Even after Wilhoit’s pupils go off to college, they find themselves coming back.

“Often times at these universities, you’ll have four or five coaches coaching the kickers, but none of them are former kickers.”

With a master’s degree in Sports Psychology, Wilhoit is equipped to also help with the mental side of kicking.

“God has blessed me to get a chance to train these guys well before they think they know it all,” Wilhoit said. “Kicking is such a mental game, though. A coach can put a dominating defense, a spectacular offensive line, and a run game around a young quarterback to help ease him into the role. Yet that same coach won’t hesitate to throw an 18-year old kid into a game-winning situation to hit a 50-yard field goal with three seconds left. Talk about pressure!

“These high level college programs often only bring in one kicker every couple of years even though the position is so important to so many games whereas a coach will grab up two or three quarterbacks just in case one doesn’t pan out. So it’s my job to make sure every kicker is ready for that situation.”

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