Q&A with Alec Vozenilek
Sept. 24, 2013
Gameday Magazine: As a kicker what is your background, did you play soccer? And what drew you to punting at the collegiate level over field goal kicking?
Vozenilek: I had played soccer my entire life until my sophomore year of high school. I was going to play varsity soccer and football the same season, but the schedules conflicted too much. I definitely had the soccer background and got into kicking in the seventh grade, my first year of football. They needed someone to kick and I said I could do it. I was the punter and the kickoff guy. In seventh grade we didn’t really do field goals or extra points. Going into high school I knew the varsity team didn’t have a good kicker, or one at all, so I tried out for the team. I was the placekicker and kicked off for four years and punted for three. Coming to UVa they wanted me to continue to do both when I got here and I did during my first and second years here. The punting job opened up early, so I became focused on that.
Gameday Magazine: You walked on to UVa in 2010 and redshirted, and then didn’t see the field in 2011. What did it mean to you last year when you became UVa’s full time punter and had the ability to get on the field? Then, along with long snapper Matt Fortin, to go from walk-ons to being awarded scholarships this past spring, what were those emotions like?
Vozenilek: It was a great opportunity and was definitely my dream to play college athletics and college football and I’m just trying to make the most of that. For a lot of walk-ons, the goal is to earn the scholarship and earn the respect. I think for Matt [Fortin] and me that was a goal of ours, so when coach announced that he got a scholarship I didn’t know if I was next in line or not. Coach and I were supposed to talk that day and I had no idea he was going to announce it in front of the whole team. We had a meeting set up to talk about where I stood going into the season later that day and then before we got to that meeting he let the cat out of the bag in front of the team. It meant a lot to my family and me and I am thankful for it.
Gameday Magazine: You hail from Richmond and St. Christopher’s School – what type of rivalry did you have growing up with a guy like Jake McGee who went to Collegiate? What was is like coming to UVa together in 2010?
Vozenilek: Jake and I had a long rivalry in high school. Collegiate and St. Christopher’s are five minutes from one another and have rivalries in every sport. They were pretty good in football and Jake was a good athlete in basketball too. When I first played them I played against Russell Wilson, then Jake became the quarterback after he left. Jake’s a really talented guy and we were always sure to congratulate each other after games. Jake had planned on going to Richmond with Coach London and they had been recruiting me as well, so we were going to end up in Richmond together or here together. It is awesome to have him around. We still talk about when the Collegiate and St. Christopher’s games are coming up and give each other a hard time about who is going to win.
Gameday Magazine: Coming from Richmond, was there any added excitement that you made your collegiate debut against Richmond in 2012?
Vozenilek: A few of my high school coaches were Richmond graduates and Spiders fans so it was cool for them to see me play. I live by the University of Richmond and I kicked on their fields and worked out in their facilities, so I guess it was pretty ironic.
Gameday Magazine: Your brother, Rob, walked onto the men’s basketball team in 2011. As a former fellow walk-on, what advice did you give him?
Vozenilek: I told Rob that being a walk-on means you must sacrifice anything for the team and do what they need you to do. I think he did exactly that, and earned his way to traveling with the team and being a part of an NCAA Tournament team.
Gameday Magazine: You have had a knack of placing the ball inside the 20. Can you talk about the precision and the art of punting the ball well enough to pin a team deep in their territory without causing a touchback.
Vozenilek: You start to see a lot of things in the NFL today with guys holding the ball a certain way so when the ball hits it bounces to side. We have practiced this some, but for me I just like to hang it up as high as I can with a lot of hang time so guys can run up behind it. Then with some returners, like Oregon had, we try to pin it as close as we can within the 10-yard line.
Gameday Magazine: Describe the perfect punt.
Vozenilek: You can feel it, but you know it’s a good punt when you hear the crowd’s reaction, like the `oohh …’ that is when you know it is a good punt. Then you see a fair catch and that means the punt team did their job and blocked and got out, so that is definitely the perfect punt.
Gameday Magazine: The kickers and long snappers have their own “Team Kick” group, it is almost like a little army. Can you talk a little about those guys and what you all do to stay loose? Who is the funniest of the group?
Vozenilek: “Team Kick” has turned into a big entourage this year with about a dozen guys. We are all pretty tight and a lot of us live together. We always give each other a hard time since we spend so much time together. During practice, when we don’t have our specific periods, we do workouts with strength coach Evan Marcus, it helps us stay loose and work on core strength. The funniest guy in the group is probably Dylan Sims because he is such a character. It is hard to pinpoint if it is just jokes, but he is a funny kid with the way he deliveries his jokes and the things he does.
Gameday Magazine: If you were drawing up a trick play on a punt formation, what would be your ideal way to be the hero and score the touchdown?
Vozenilek: I think I would want to run the ball. I would want to run right behind the shield. Those three guys would take off and go either up the middle, or around the side. It would be an awesome feeling.
Gameday Magazine: If you scored a touchdown on a trick play and knew you wouldn’t be flagged for a penalty, would you have an end zone dance or celebration?
Vozenilek: It would probably be nothing too crazy. I would just celebrate with my teammates. If I knew I wouldn’t get a penalty, I would maybe try to dunk on the field goal crossbar.