Conde scratching the surface of full potential in sophomore season


Kevin Crompton – Editor-in-Chief

Jose Conde never aspired to be a kicker. When he was a child at just 6-years-old, he played soccer, and after making the transition to football in high school he longed for an ambitious offer to play wide receiver or safety at the collegiate level.

“Coming out of my senior year I was looking for an offer to go somewhere,” said Conde. “Unfortunately, Southern was the only place and they offered me a kicking spot so I was like, ‘why not take it?’”

Conde, a sophomore, is in his second season as the Owls’ kicker. In 2017, he was 100 percent on field goal attempts making a total of five. He was consistent on extra point attempts as well, only missing one out of 33. Going into week eight of the 2018 season, Conde is 3-5 on field goal attempts and 17-19 on extra points. Head coach Tom Godek said Conde’s consistency will continue if he buys into Southern’s plan.

“It’s certainly god given talent at that position–for any kicker really,” said Godek. “Like any coach out there, you’re always striving for your athletes to get stronger and the more and more Jose believes in what we’re trying to do here and for him — the sky can be the limit for him.”

Conde, who has yet to kick a game winning field goal, said he has been eager for an opportunity to kick in a high pressure situation.

“I definitely look forward to that, but every time we get in a situation I get nervous,” said Conde. “I want that moment to come but I know I’m going to be really nervous when it comes.”

After being tied at 20 at the end of regulation, Saturday’s game at Assumption went into overtime. When the Owls’ offense failed to score a touchdown on their first overtime possession, Conde was called upon to send one through the uprights. From 23-yards out, Conde’s kick ricocheted off the left upright and fell to the turf. On Assumption’s ensuing possession, a blown coverage by the Owl’s defense resulted in a Greyhound touchdown and Southern’s third loss of the season.

In accordance with NCAA overtime rules, a Conde made field goal would not have won the game for Southern. Assumption would still have its opportunity to score a touchdown, and they did just that.

“Prior to Saturday’s game, kicking coach Alex Trasacco said he puts Conde through drills
in practice that test his mental toughness in preparation for situations like the one he faced on Saturday.

“We’ll go over to the practice field and the uprights aren’t exactly straight,” said Trasacco. “Once I get to a point where I’m pretty comfortable in his accuracy I’ll tell him to put it behind one and then through the other one. So anything to challenge him — not physically but mentally. A lot of our drills are psychological because as kickers, our biggest enemy is our own minds.”

Trasacco said Conde has the ability to make a 50-yard field goal.

“Right now he’s flirting with 50-yards give or take how he strikes the ball, but he flirts with 50 and that’s not bad for a sophomore,” said Trasacco.

Conde recently stepped into a new role as the team’s starting punter, relieving redshirt junior Kyle Armour of his duties so Armour can focus on playing defensive back.

“I’ve always told myself I just hate punting because you always have to catch the ball to get a perfect drop and make sure it hits the outside of your foot perfect every time to get a good kid,” said Conde. “It’s easy but not easy at the same time.”

Trasacco said he enjoys working with Conde whether it’s on punting or kicking.

“He’s very strong technically and mentally [and] he likes to work hard,” said Trasacco. “He’s an easy kid to coach — always wants to get better.”

While Conde has kicked over 50 extra points in games over the last two seasons, he said he is still waiting for the opportunity to fake a kick.

We have nothing [in the playbook],” said Conde. “I thought about talking to the coaches about it. In high school I threw a fake-punt pass for 50-plus yards. I feel like I could throw one — maybe run one — but definitely throw one.”

Photo Credit: SCSU Athletic Communications

 

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