Thursday, September 15, 2011
Soccer manager tries out at kicker for UCLA
By Peter Yoon
The hip flexor injury to kicker Kip Smith appears to be giving the UCLA coaching staff cause for a little bit more concern than they are letting on because on Wednesday they had men's soccer team manager Tyler Gonzalez trying out for the job.
Gonzalez, a senior who last kicked at Fullerton High school, kicked early in practice, making an extra-point attempt and a 40-yard field goal, but also had a 30-yard attempt blocked by Joe Fauria. He finished practice with a 40-yard field goal at the end of the two-minute drill, drawing a rousing ovation from the team.
"We’re just taking a look around," coach Rick Neuheisel said. "By rule we can have a couple of day tryouts."
Because Gonzalez is not an official member of the team, he was not available to talk to the media, but Neuheisel says he is a roommate of one of the football team's student assistants. He was an all-CIF soccer player in high school but has not played soccer for UCLA.
Smith, the redshirt freshman who made two field goals Saturday during UCLA's 27-17 victory over San Jose State, did not dress for practice Wednesday. He left practice Tuesday after trying one kick and complaining of tightness in his kicking leg.
Neuheisel said Smith would rest again Thursday, but that he was hopeful to have him available for Saturday's game against Texas.
"We’ll see how it responds to treatment but my expectation is that he’ll be ready to go," Neuheisel said. "I don’t know that we’ll practice tomorrow. We’ll test it out before game time, but I don’t know that we’ll do anything tomorrow."
If Smith is unable to go, it leaves punter Jeff Locke as the only other legitimate option among players on the current roster. Backup Joe Roberts is out because of a quad injury.
Locke, who also handles kickoffs, has been reluctant to add field-goal kicking to his duties. He kicked Wednesday, however, hooking an extra point wide right before making an extra point, a 30-yard field goal and a 40-yard field goal.