Oct. 4, 2000
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Soccer-style kickers often make good football kickers.
Morten Anderson of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and Gary Anderson of theMinnesota Vikings are prime examples.
The University of Wyoming has a kicker with a strong soccer background. Butif you ask senior Aaron Elling what sport he prefers, he'll tell youfootball - American football that is.
"Nothing beats this," said Elling on how much he enjoys kicking for theCowboys. "This is too much fun."
The Lander product was a standout soccer player in high school. He was afour-year letterman and earned all-state honors his junior and seniorseasons as a forward.
During Elling's senior year, Lander football coach Jeff Savage asked Ellingto give football a try. Elling did and ended up being named Lander's specialteams most valuable player as the Tigers' kicker in just his first year ofplaying the sport.
"(Savage) talked me into playing football, which I thought would neverhappen because I was so little," Elling said. "By the end of the year, I wasplaying three positions."
He also played receiver and free safety.
But soccer was still Elling's top priority out of high school. He attendedGeorge Fox College, an NAIA school in Newberg, Ore., to play soccer. Heplayed one year, and George Fox advanced to the regional finals.
But Elling still had a burning for football. That fire burned even hotterafter attending a college football game in Oregon.
"I went to an Oregon Ducks game, saw their kicker and decided to give it atry," Elling said. "I gave it a shot, came here, walked on and everythingworked out."
It's worked out well, as Elling eventually earned a scholarship. He was anhonorable mention all-conference pick as a sophomore in 1998 for UW as hemade 16-of-21 field goals and 20 straight extra points.
Elling slumped some last year as he made just 11-of-21 field goals.
But he's put last year behind him, and is off to fast start this season.
He's made 4-of-5 field goal attempts, with the only miss a 54-yarder againstNevada.
Elling has a natural draw on his kicks, and UW coach Vic Koenning comparedElling's only miss this season to a common occurrence in another sport.
"He usually draws the ball a little bit, and he put it out there exactlywhere he needed it to be drawn," Koenning said. "He left it a little bit outto the right - no different than some of our sorry golf games."
Elling said kicking a football is much different than kicking a soccer ball,but the pure repetition of kicking in soccer helps when kicking a football.
And does he miss playing soccer?
"Every once in awhile I miss playing soccer, but I'm having too much fundoing this."