MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Scholarship offers for kickers and punters can be difficult to come by even for top-level high school prospects. Morgantown rising senior John McConnell just scored his first Division I scholarship offer this past weekend when Marshall University extended an invitation to run with the Thundering Herd.
“I have been able to maintain a really good relationship with their special teams coordinator, (Kyle) Segler. The coach I work with Adam Tanalski, who I train with a lot, has had a good relationship with him too and has trained a lot of former Marshall specialists including Justin Rohrwasser.”
— John McConnell Jr (@JohnMcConnell40) May 8, 2020
Rohrwasser just graduated from Marshall this spring and was the first kicker selected in the NFL Draft last month.
McConnell has made visits to several ‘Power 5’ conference schools, including Alabama, Auburn, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Penn State, Pittsburgh and West Virginia. While Marshall represents his first scholarship offer, McConnell will keep his recruiting open.
“I definitely thought that would be a possibility to walk on. I was hoping a scholarship would come definitely. But that was always in the back of my mind. The goal was always a scholarship so I am happy that happened.”
McConnell has logged a lot of miles in pursuit of making the goal of a scholarship happen. He has kicked at camps run by Chris Sailer Kicking in Las Vegas and Kohl’s Kicking in Orlando.
“It is definitely a grind but I have come to meet a lot of great people and made a lot of great friends. So it has been pretty enjoyable.”
While college programs will invest multiple scholarships in most positions on the roster, kicking and punting scholarships are much more difficult to come by. So competitions at kicking camps are often intense.
“It is a lot of live reps in front of coaches. There are a lot of different players competing for pretty much one spot. So there’s high pressure but it is always a great experience.
“You have one opportunity to do what you need to do. It is something you have to seize the moment for. I have come to enjoy it a lot.”
Ball game!!!!! pic.twitter.com/uUozEqNciU
— Morgantown Athletics (@MohiganAthletic) September 22, 2018
McConnell booted the game-winning field goal in overtime to defeat Linsly in 2018
McConnell has been a fixture on the Morgantown special teams units since his freshman season, handling kickoff, PAT/field goal and punting responsibilities.
“My freshman year I just kicked field goals and kicked off. Midway through the season I started punting as well and since then I have been doing all three.”
McConnell is rated as a 5-star punter by Chris Sailer and is the No. 5 recruit in the nation.
“Recently, I have been focused more on punting. That is what most schools are looking for me to do at the next level.”
He says the key to a good punt involves much more than the swing of the leg.
“How much your hands are incorporated with punting and how important having good hands are. Even though catching may not be the hard part, having a good ‘get off’ time, getting it to the right spot to punt it is key.”