Every point counts


His team’s kicking game is so bad this season that Grambling State University football Coach Doug Williams is considering all viable options. Desperate for a kicker immediately, he said he’ll consider  “one of the soccer girls who can kick it through the upright.” 

Williams said he’s open to options and suggestions, including international students on campus who have grown up playing what Americans call soccer, maybe students who play on the university’s intramural center club soccer team. “I would love to see one or two of them try out,” the coach said in an interview.

Officially recruited as a punter, Fabian Carter has been assigned double duty recently, adding kicker to his resume as he develops different kicking skills.  It hasn’t been easy.

In the Port City Classic two weeks ago, punter Fabian Carter missed two field goals that could have been converted into 6 points, causing Grambling State to lose to Alcorn State University – by one point. At the first home game, the 2011 SWAC football champion Grambling State team was expected to beat Alabama State University. Instead, Grambling attempted one field goal, missed it and came up short – losing by one point.

He suffered from a quadriceps strain in pre-game warm-up on Saturday against Alabama State. 

“The quad muscle is the main muscle working when kicking.” Carter said. “As for punting, I have a severe amount of pain every time I punt but because punting uses more hamstring muscle, I was able to bear through it.”

The best scenario would include a designated kicker. With Carter injured, though, the team’s backup plan is forcing the Grambling Tigers to look elsewhere for help. 

Athletic Director Percy “Chico” Caldwell fully supports Williams’ creative notions, saying he thinks this is a good opportunity for one of the university’s women’s soccer players to give football a try.

“The kicking position in football is considered a relatively safe position. You do not see a high injury rate, although you do see some,” said Caldwell.

Though there have been exceptions, some high school and college football coaches have given female players a shot, using focusing on the kicking game as the best, safest option. 

In a few instances, a major college football team – like LSU – has given a tryout to a college queen and some high school football teams have played young women in the quarterback and running back positions. 

Sometimes football coaches have looked to male soccer players to add distance, diversity and maybe some intrigue to their kicking games. In those cases, they have looked to goalies the most.

 “They are usually the person who does the long distant kicks,” noted Caldwell, “and it’s not as much a tear physically as the rest of the team.”

Student-athletes on one college team can play on another college team under NCAA rules, the athletic director said. 

The two coaches would have to agree on a schedule that benefits both teams. “As long as they meet the eligibility requirements for Division 1, then no other rules will prevent them from playing,” said Caldwell. 

In recent years, there have been several women try out for Division I teams, most notably in Louisiana is Mo Isom at LSU. Isom tried out for the nationally-ranked football team as a kicker, twice. 

She didn’t make the roster either time. The coaches chose four other players as kickers. 

Unlike LSU, Grambling has a void that a Grambling State student, or Isom, can fill.

 “Due to the amount of time of my eligibility, it is an impossibility based on NCAA policy,” Isom said in response to a query whether she might consider transferring to Grambling.    

Due to fall registration closing, Isom will not be able to transfer mid-season. 

“I wish there were a way around the rules,” said Isom. 

Caldwell is giving his head football coach room to make decisions about how to proceed, but he said he’s seen some creative efforts elsewhere. “I’ve seen coaches, even in major divisions, put up a poster in the student center and around campus that simple say ‘We are looking for a kicker’,” said Caldwell. “They have found some pretty good kickers.”