This week was exciting for long time Kicking World student Blake Levin of Cheyenne, Wyoming. He has been training with us for over 6 years since HS into college and even served as a student assistant at a few camps. He struggled with finding the right school for him and ultimately transferred a couple times which made for a journey filled with speed bumps, circumstances, and various emotions, but he pushed on and saw it through to the end. He’s finishing up his 4-year degree this spring, and just completed his last year of College Football (after a brief stint at Northern State right out of high school followed by an All-American season at junior college Santa Barbara CC, then after transferring to Division I Bowling Green and it not working out he ultimately finished his final 2 years of college football at Faulkner University where he received a warm reception and everything fell into place. He had a good final year and made 2 Senior Bowl games. As you can see it’s been a long and unconventional journey for Blake!
We’re proud of him for sticking it through and showing the wherewithal to keep his kicking journey alive. Everything came to fruition this week as he just finished his Senior Bowl appearance and signed a Pro Contract to play for the Bismarck Bucks of the Indoor Football League. While there are a couple arena/indoor football leagues around, this one has been blossoming of late and adding teams each year. We look forward to his progress this year and will be watching to see how he does when he starts his first game in 2 months.
The interview below is between Coach Brent and Blake after he signed his first Pro contract this week… enjoy!
How did you get into kicking?
I got into kicking in high school. My mom actually pushed me to kick because I was always flying around and getting injured. So she said maybe I should try to kick lol.
What’s your fondest HS and/or College football memory?
My fondest HS football memory would be when I hit my first varsity field goal and it was from 44 yards. Every day since then our defensive coordinator called me Thunderfoot. My fondest memory in college would have to have been my game-winning field goal on Halloween in junior college, it was such a good game and to come down to the kick and winning it was an awesome feeling.
What is the longest field goal you ever made in a HS or College game? What about practice (and be honest – wind or nah)?
In a game it is 48 yards which is also the longest I’ve ever attempted. In practice I have film of a 68 yard field goal which I smacked but I hit a 70 yarder once with a good wind behind me in Santa Barbara.
Tell us about your journey from HS to College and all the stops along the way
My journey is a lot different from other people just because I transferred A LOT. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing it was just what I wanted to do as an 18-year-old kid. I had some Preferred Walk On offers to Division 1 schools out of high school and a couple scholarships from smaller schools. I took an offer to a D2 school and really didn’t enjoy it at all and left after the first year. I decided initially thought to transfer out to a Division 1 school (Univ of Wyoming near my home town) that showed interest in me, but after realizing I would lose a year of eligibility I decided to pursue the Junior College route with the ‘1 step back, 2 steps forward’ thought concept.
I got to researching and found Santa Barbara City College. I was sold as soon as I saw the stadium… it was right on the ocean! It certainly beat the cold wind and snow of Wyoming so I contacted the coaches and next thing you know I was a Vaquero playing JUCO football. In JUCO I was an All-American and set many school records for kicking. I was recruited from various schools across the country with multiple offers and visits. I took my offer to Bowling Green State University in the MAC conference. It was a great experience, and I’ll forever love Bowling Green (finished a full year of classes there – but football never panned out).
It was really disappointing and at this point, I honestly thought about hanging up my cleats and moving on from football. But my gut and encouragement from my parents and friends & family spurred me to give this one more go. So I transferred for what I was thought would be my senior year to Faulkner University in the state of Alabama. But someone the NCAA gave me 2 years of eligibility and I was able to play out my remaining two seasons at Faulkner! I averaged over 62 yards per kickoff with 50+ touchbacks in my career. It was a blessing that Faulkner found me and I was able to continue playing. Even though it wasn’t at the Division 1 level that I always dreamed of, the experience was amazing, and I am very grateful for the staff, team, and University for providing me with a very rewarding experience for the last 2 years of my long college football journey. BTW, that program knows how to hook up their players! We had some ‘sick’ uniforms and alternates, as well as got to stay in some really nice hotels. Some aspects were as good if not better than D1!
How did you handle all the ups and downs throughout college?
Honestly just a lot of prayer. Being in junior college in California is unlike any other place school wise. Football resources aren’t the same as a larger school, and everyone is there to progress to the next level. For many it’s disappointing to have that ‘limbo’ year and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is hard, and many lose focus and ultimately drop off. It’s definitely a grind and you have to stay positive. After my season progressed and my in-game stats were looking good I really just hoped someone would take notice and possibly offer me a scholarship and help me get to that D1 level. With prayer anything is possible, and I’m a firm believer in that. When I look back at how everything went these last few years I realize that God truly had a plan for me, and even though at the time it seemed like a lost cause, ultimately he rewarded me in the end.
Has there been any one person or people that have been there for you throughout this long journey in college?
There’s been a few but the ones that come to my mind right away are my parents, sister, girlfriend, and Coach Brent & Kicking World. My parents have helped me with every decision and traveled to tons of my games and supported me the whole way. My sister has made sure to make at least a couple games every year I’ve played. My girlfriend was there with me at Bowling Green and ever since by my side, supporting me in all I do.
When I met Coach Brent I first attended a camp in high school going into my senior year with Kicking World and actually a really cool picture of me doing a kickoff was used in an online Nike advertisement! I won the kickoff competition at camp and the relationship/communication with KW, its coaches, as well as new kicking friends I made has been going on ever since. I really feel like the connections at Kicking World are unlike any other camp out there – so personalized, and real honesty with the coaches – not just blowing smoke.
What one or two things that you learned over the years do you think really helped your kicking game?
My weight balance/transfer downfield on my kickoffs and in general, proper foot to ball contact. If you can make consistent solid contact on the ball you don’t need great strength behind the kick to get a nice pop and flight path.
“It’s the little things that can make a HUGE difference.”
Do you have any ‘tips’ for aspiring kickers and punters who are wondering what they can do to increase their chances of playing college football and maybe even more?
To increase your chances of playing in College – don’t limit yourself to just Division 1 schools. A 50 yard field goal is a 50 yard field goal regardless of where you are playing; it’s still 50 yards. Having a goal of D1 is good but don’t limit your opportunities and feel as if you’re a failure if you aren’t playing on ESPN on Saturdays. Pro scouts and coaches seem to still find players even if they’re from smaller schools. Of course, it’s harder going Pro if you play at a small school vs say Alabama, but ultimately if you put up the stats/metrics and you have it (mostly) together as a person, you will find opportunities. Be coachable, take the help others offer you and use it where you can to make yourself a better player and person in all that you do. It’s the little things that can make a HUGE difference.
Have you been to an indoor / arena football game before?
Yes I have and they’re a lot of fun. It’s a high pace scoring game with lots of energy and little breaks in the action. Super excited to rack up some points in the Indoor Football League!
What do you think will be the biggest challenge when you start your professional Indoor Football League career in ~2 months?
Adjusting to the smaller uprights, as well as being in a new environment and living up north. Other than that it’s the same thing I’ve been doing for years – ‘just kicking it’. Haha.
How did this whole Pro contract thing come about?
I was sitting at home working out wondering what I was going to do to prepare for the CFL (Canadian Football League) combines this spring and that’s when I connected with the Bucks. I started talking to them and next thing you know the head coach (Coach Miller) talks with me on the phone and things escalated quickly. Coach showed a ton of interest in me and the personal approach really got me excited for the league.
Favorite NFL Kicker?
That’s tough because there are quite a bit that I definitely look up to, but I would have to go with Greg Zuerlein.
The laughing/crying one haha.
What is the most important trait you can have to help you succeed at the next level?
Your mentality. If you aren’t there with your mind you won’t be able to succeed and get past the mental obstacles at the next level.
This concludes the interview with Coach Brent and Blake Levin. For more student interviews and success stories, search our Blog. Be sure to follow @KickingWorld across all our platforms. For camp or private lesson info, check out kickingworld.com.