Illinois kicker gives IU verbal commitment

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Indiana had been in touch with Mitch Ewald to express interest in recruiting him, but not as often as some of the other schools in the Big 10 and Big 12.

That changed on June 12 when the 5-foot-10 kicker from Aurora, Ill. attended a one-day camp at IU. Inside Mellencamp Pavilion that day, he started kicking with just one IU staff member, Harold Mauro, watching him. Mauro apparently liked what he saw. He soon called over head coach Bill Lynch and some of his assistants. They told Ewald to start over so they could chart his kicks.

“Before I knew it, I had the whole coaching staff watching me,” Ewald said.

As Ewald left camp, Lynch told him he’d be receiving scholarship offers from other schools, but to let the IU coach know if he decided Indiana was where he wanted to go to college and play football. IU wasn’t yet certain about how it wanted to fill its kicker position after senior Austin Starr is gone, Lynch told him, but the Hoosiers were interested in Ewald.

Kicker is usually one of the most difficult positions at which to receive a scholarship offer because schools will sometimes have their kickers walk-on and later earn a scholarship if they play well enough and earn the starting job. But Ewald did receive offers over the past month from Kansas State and Northern Illinois.

Still, he called Lynch and told him he wanted to play at Indiana. Having visited IU several times because his sister, Janae, is a student here, he loved the campus. And he felt convinced that IU has an improving football program where he’d get his chance to play after Starr graduates.

Last week, Ewald spoke again with Lynch, who told him to wait until Friday for word one way or the other on whether IU would offer him a scholarship. Lynch said he’d send Ewald an e-mail telling him what time he’d be available to talk on the phone.

Ewald woke up early Friday morning and went to his computer. He hit refresh again and again, waiting for Lynch’s e-mail. At 9 a.m., the e-mail arrived. Lynch offered Ewald a scholarship and told him to call him later in the day.

“It was awesome,” Ewald said. “I was going crazy for a little while.”

Ewald gave IU his verbal commitment Monday, making him the 10th player in its 2009 recruiting class.

His high school coach, Paul Murphy, said Lynch’s decision will turn out to be a good one because there’s no doubt Ewald can play at the next level.

Murphy recalled his first day as head coach at Waubonsie High School. When he arrived, Ewald and his dad were out on the field practicing, a sight that Murphy would continue to see from a kid who wasn’t very big, but had a powerful leg and worked constantly to improve.

Ewald will be able to boom his kickoffs through the end zone even at the college distance that’s five yards longer than high school, Murphy said, and has a steady disposition that’s ideal for kicker.

“He’s got the leg to kick it from 60 yards,” Murphy said of Ewald’s field goals. “And something that sets him apart from most high school kickers is that he’s been practicing off the ground the past two summers. He can kick off the tee in high school and he’ll be able to kick it off the ground in college.”

Ewald hit 6-of-9 field goals last season for an offense that scored a lot of TDs and didn’t allow for many FG attempts, Murphy said. He also hit 29-of-30 extra points and averaged 68 yards on his kickoffs, resulting in touchbacks 85 percent of the time. 35 percent of his kicks were out of the back of the end zone, Murphy said.

Ewald’s longest kick (and longest attempt) in a game is 40 yards, but he said he hit a 63-yarder to win a competition at a camp.

11 comments

  1. From what I can gather, this kid is a good pick up. I am not sure where Caleb has got his info from that this kid is the 2nd ranked kicker, but regardless he seems solid.

  2. Caleb,

    I know what Rivals is. I have checked all the Rivals sites, I sill can not find where he is ranked second by Rivals.

    Below is the list of the 2009 IU football recruits that have verbaled. I put Mitch in Bold for you, his rank is “NR” wich stands for NOT RANKED.

    Name Pos Ht/Wt Stars Rank
    Ted Bolser TE 6-5/212 NR
    Dimitrius Carr LB 6-1/200 62
    Jamonne Chester WR 6-1/194 NR
    Mitch Ewald K 5-10/165 NR
    Jeremy Gainer LB 6-1/215 21
    Adam Replogle DT 6-3/265 56
    Kenneth Watkins DB 6-0/185 NR
    Duwyce Wilson WR 6-4/190 63
    Edward Wright Baker ATH 6-2/205 87
    Nick Zachery ATH 6-1/195 NR

    Is there something you have read somewhere that has more information on this kid? I admit I know little about him, and still can’t find where he is the #2 ranked kicker in the 2009 class. If you have that info, a link that shows it, please share, I would like to read more on him.

  3. Caleb,

    I think I found what you were talking about. There is position rankings, then there is Rivals.com Ranking which is sort of a grading scale. He is actually the 3rd rank by that scale.

  4. Mike got it. You are right, though, I tried to find it again and I cant. I remember it was fairly buried. There is another kid on there that is 0 stars, but has a higher rivals ranking.

    FYI…..IU also just got a commit from a 3 star OG from Ohio. He is ranked 62nd according to Rivals.

  5. Caleb,

    From what I have seen, that “RR” ranking is more of an indicator of how a Rivals’s “experts” feel a player might do at the next level and beyond and less of a true ranking against other players for the same position. I don’t put anything into the “RR” ratings and Rivals nameless experts.

  6. From what I could find, Ewald is ranked #3 out of 35 kickers at the following website:

    footballrecruiting.rivals.com

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