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Getting His Kicks

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Former Ram Kenny Spencer kicking for Division II powerhouse North Alabama

By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

Through four games of his senior season for the North Alabama University football team, placekicker Kenny Spencer is 5-of-7 on field goal attempts.

In his one year as the starting place kicker for the Glenwood football team in 2004, Spencer, then a lanky 170-pounder better known for his play on the soccer field than the football field, was 5-for-7 on field goals for the entire season.

Spencer, a 2005 Glenwood Community High School graduate has come a long way.

Literally.

Spencer, now a 6-foot-1, 200- pound senior, is the starting placekicker at the Florence, Ala. Division II school, ranked No. 3 nationally under first-year head coach Terry Bowden. Out of high school Spencer signed with Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls in 2005 with little fanfare. With just seven career varsity attempts on his resume and a knee injury that sidelined him for the entire spring soccer season, recruiters weren't exactly beating down his door.

“If I would have had a couple more chances to kick, I think it might have helped my recruiting, but I think it all worked out for the best,” he said.

After starting for two years at Ellsworth, Spencer sent out tapes to 25 Division I schools and 25 Division II schools. After getting feelers from lower tier D-I schools, he keyed on Valdosta State, Northwest Missouri State and North Alabama, all premier teams consistently ranked among the top 10 programs in the D-II ranks.

“I got some hits back from D-I but I felt like Alabama State was the place for me. I went there for a visit, they showed me a good time and it was my new home,” he said.

The Lions were 12-2 last year, finishing third in the final polls while Spencer redshirted. He played sparingly his first season, kicking 8-of-9 PATs and not attempting a field goal. Spencer entered the 2009 season as the team's top placekicker.

“I always wanted to kick for a really good team,” he said. “When I was kicking at Glenwood, I really wanted to kick at a D-I school. But D-II is just as competitive. Some of the guys have said the speed is the same, just some of the guys are a little smaller.

“I like the idea of being here. I like the school, I like the area.”

In the Lions' 55-7 victory over West Georgia Sept. 19 Spencer scored 13 of his team's points, connecting on field goals of 20 and 26 yards and 9-of-9 PATs. The performance earned Spencer the Gulf South Conference Special Teams Player of the Week. This season Spencer leads the Lions with 37 points on his 5-of-7 field goals and 21-of-22 PATs.

The player of the week honors are nice, Spencer said, but his two misses, from 44 and 47 yards, still nag at him.

“There won't be any more of those,” he said. His career-long in a game is a 51-yarder at Ellsworth. He's hit from 68 in practice.

The Lions have outscored opponents 170-56 on the season through four games and looks to return to the Division II playoffs under Bowden, the former Auburn coach and ESPN broadcaster.

“He's doing an excellent job,” Spencer said of his new coach. “He's brought in 25 D-I transfers I think and they've helped us. And him just being a big name, he's brought in key players that helped positions we really needed it.”

Spencer said with a high profile coach like Bowden at the helm and the plethora of Division I transferrs joining the team this season, NFL scouts have been a more common sight at practices and games. Spencer has noticed.

“Everyday at practice we have scouts there. I think with most guys in college then want a shot at 'the league,' but it's a whole different league up there,” he said. “If I perform well this year I think I might be able to get into a (NFL traning) camp somewhere. If that happens then I'll take it one day at a time and see what I can do.”

Spencer's parents, Jeff and Gloria, still live in Glenwood. He doesn't get back as much he'd like but still follows Glenwood football. He was happy to hear about the Rams' recent 17-0 homecoming win.

“They're 3-1,” he said. “They've come a long way.”

So has their former placekicker.