BEREA, OHIO -- Baldwin-Wallace College senior placekicker Brad Pollock (Broadview Heights/ Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School) is having his best season as a collegian in 2010. Three years ago, he thought he would be helping the Yellow Jackets win games as a wide receiver. Today, he's doing it by being almost perfect on his extra point kicks and field goals.
"Brad Pollock has improved a great deal in his four years at Baldwin-Wallace College," said ninth-year Head Coach John Snell, who enters the Wilmington game with a 54-34 career record. "He came here as a wide receiver and kicker, and he's a talented receiver. But, we need him to be our kicker, and he's definitely a valuable asset to our football program as a team leader and placekicker."
Pollock decided that B-W was the place for him due to its winning tradition and welcoming atmosphere.
"I came to B-W because of two main factors," said Pollock, who has connected on 23-of-24 PAT kicks and three-of-four field goals and leads the Yellow Jackets in scoring with 32 points. "First of all, I liked the fact that B-W has a long-standing winning tradition in football. Secondly, when I came to visit the campus, I was impressed by how welcoming the coaches and players were. They made me feel welcome and right at home. It was an easy decision."
As a freshman, Pollock displayed his talents as both a wideout and kicker on the junior varsity squad and began to make an impact on the varsity as a sophomore when he was still playing both positions. That season, he caught a pair of passes for seven yards and split time at PK with then senior Adam Wilburn '08. In seven contests overall, Pollock connected on all six of his PAT kicks and two-of-three field goals for 12 points. It was during that offseason where the B-W coaching staff decided that he was too valuable to the team to get hurt at WR.
"Brad showed a very strong leg," said Snell of the business administration and sport management major who carries a 3.274 grade average and plans to attend law school and possibly become a sports agent. "He is accurate and gets the ball up very quickly. He was just too valuable to the team to get hurt while playing wide receiver.
"With that said, the coaching staff had some long discussions about the issue because we also knew he was a talented wideout," continued Snell. "And, to Brad's credit, when we sat down to talk with him, he was all about the team and just wanted to do whatever was best for the team."
"Did I miss playing wide receiver," said Pollock with a wide smile. "Sure, no doubt about it. "But I am willing to do whatever is necessary to help the team be successful, and at that point in time and now, it means doing the very best job I can as the placekicker.
"As it was then and is now, our team motto is to WIN, which means each player has to do whatever is necessary to make that happen," continued Pollock, speaking about the Yellow Jackets current 5-1 overall and 4-1 OAC record. "If we have a successful season and I am able to contribute to that success in any way possible, I am all for it.
That's just another reason special teams coach Keith Grabowski likes Pollock.
"Brad is a team player," said Grabowski, who also serves as the offensive coordinator. "He could be a valuable member of our receiving corps, no question about it. And, he's an even more valuable member of our program as a team leader and its kicker. In both aspects, leading by-example and kicking, he does a great job and is a great role model for our younger players. His unselfishness really rubs off on the rest of the team."
One person who had an impact on Pollock was former The Ohio State University kicker Mike Nugent, who now kicks for the National Football League's Cincinnati Bengals.
"I saw him at a camp and the guy was automatic [perfect on his placements]," said Pollock. "I just thought to myself, if I could just be as accurate as he is, I could really help my team."
That has held true for the six-foot and 175-pound Pollock who has connected on 56-of-62 career PAT boots and 10-of-13 field goals for 86 career points scored. This year's 23-of-24 PAT effort for 95.8 percent efficency shows outstanding improvement from last season when he connected on 27-of-32 PAT kicks for 84.4% and five-of-six field goals for 83.3%.
"I am more focused this year," said Pollock, who credits the whole offense line but names two in particular, junior long snapper Danny Reineck (Woodstock, Ga/ Etowah) and senior WR and holder Anthony Fairhurst (Ashland/ Senior). They have been great to work with. We are all on the same page."
While many players have their own pregame ritual of listening to music on their ipods or jogging up and down the field, Pollock is different.
"I sit by myself and I try to visualize every kick while taking deep breaths after every one,"said Pollock. "That helps me to remain calm when I get out on the field and have to do it in a real game situation."
Even through his longest field goal as a Yellow Jacket is 37 yards set earlier this season in B-W's season-opening 38-14 victory against The College of Wooster, Pollock says he can kick in much further.
"At practice, I have kicked a 50-yard field goal, and in high school, I made a 43-yarder at Finnie Stadium against Berea High School. And, even though I made a 37-yarder earlier this season, I plan to make an even longer one before the season is over."
"It is great to have a kicker who is as accurate as Brad and a plus that he has confidence in his ability," said Snell. "As a coach, I have the utmost confidence in Brad and his ability to put points on the board. That's also a positive for our offense. For our offense to know that even if they can't put the ball in the endzone for seven [points], Brad will give us three."
In addition to his team goals of having a winning season, winning an OAC title, qualifying for the NCAA Division III Playoffs and winning BW its second Division III national title, Pollock has some individual goals.
"I would like to be an All-OAC player and I would like to help restore order and put BW back on top of the OAC," said Pollock, "Last year, we were 3-7 and tied for seventh place in the conference. This year, we are 5-1 and tied for second place. We know what we have to do the rest of the way. It has been very satisfying to see the turnabout, but we also know there is still a long way to go and there are more games to win."
When Pollock leaves his heir-apparent is junior placekicker David Cantu (Amherst/ Marion Steele), and he some advice for his understudy.
"Remain focused and the rest of it he knows since we've been talking for about three years now,"said Pollock.
"Brad brings a great deal to the table in terms of his talent and leadership," said Cantu, who kicks off for the Yellow Jackets. "On the field, he works hard, goes about his business in a professional manner and is always willing to help the younger players on the team. Off the field, he handles himself with poise and is a strong student. As a younger player, I certainly look up to Brad in many ways."
Pollock credits his eighth grade coach [Coach Desandes] and current B-W Sports Management Professor Dr. Alvy Styles with helping him a great deal.
"In eighth grade, Coach Desandes demanded a lot from me and it tough me the value of hard work," sai Pollock. "That hard work is paying off now, not only on the field but in the classroom.
"Dr. Styles is a very demanding professor who asks all of her students to give 110 percent and be accountable both in the classroom and out of it," continued Pollock. "She has a lot of knowledge and experience in the sports industry. and is always willing to help her students."
This Saturday, October 23, Pollock and his Yellow Jacket senior teammates will get a chance to thank Dr. Styles and other members of the B-W faculty when B-W hosts Ohio Athletic Conference rival Wilmington College on the Tressel Field turf at The George Finnie Stadium at 1:30 p.m. on Professor Appreciation Day.
FOR MORE B-W Sports Information, please contact Sports Information Director Kevin Ruple by telephone at 440-826-2327 and e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. or Assistant SID Jeff Miller by phone at 440-826-2780 and email at email@example.com Fans can access the latest B-W athletics information at www.bw.edu/athletics and we invite you to join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bwyellowjackets and Twitter athttp://twitter.com/bwathletics.