Yannick Reyering: From the Pitch to the Gridiron

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IAugust 22, 2008

Yannick Reyering is known for being a great football player.

He's just not used to the helmet and pads quite yet.

The 6-foot-6 German forward is no stranger to kicking in front of a packed house, but this will surely be a new start for the three-time All-ACC selection and former preseason All-American, as Reyering makes the move from the pitch to the gridiron.

Reyering has never exactly been known for taking the conventional route in life.  He chose to attend the University of Virginia because he liked what he saw when he googled "college soccer" from his PC in Germany.

Well, at least he did his homework.

Reyering knew he could get exposure at Virginia, but it would come at a price.  Since Reyering played with a club team while a youth in Germany, the NCAA only allowed him three years of eligibility for the soccer team.

Nevertheless, Reyering was an instant hit at Virginia.  His confident personality and penchant for hitting clutch shots made him a fan favorite.  Reyering led the team in shots, points, goals and game-winning goals as just a freshman.

Reyering's terrific sophomore season helped propel Virginia to its first Final Four in nearly a decade where they lost to UCLA.

He finished his career with 39 goals and over 20 assists, numbers that would impress anybody.

However, draft day in the MLS was unkind to Reyering.  So instead of accepting his spot in the MLS Supplemental Draft to FC Dallas, Reyering decided to come back to school and, since soccer was not an option, he decided to use his final year of eligibility and make his move to the gridiron.  Reyering tried out to be the Cavaliers' new place kicker.

Now, making the transition from soccer player to field goal kicker is not that rare a tradition.  After all, Connor Hughes, one of Virginia's all-time best kickers, was a former soccer player.  However, most of these candidates rarely achieve the kind of success of Reyering a three-year starter and leading goal scorer.

They also have a more than a few months to try and learn.

However, Virginia football did not have time to spare.  The Cavaliers had to replace both of their kickers and the cupboard appeared bare.

Reyering, though, gave Virginia head coach Al Groh an interesting option.

As he put it, the kicking situation had gone from "horrible to hopeful."

Well now the hope of Virginia's special teams rests solely with Reyering, as he has been named the starter over Chris Hinkebein and Robert Randolph.  Not bad for a guy who had never kicked a football until April.

Reyering has improved over time during training camp in Charlottesville and has clearly shown to have the most powerful leg of the contenders.  Everyone raves about his potential and it is hard to argue that he can only improve during the course of the year as he gains experience.

It will be interesting to see if one of the best penalty kickers in Virginia history can show the same ability to come through in high-pressure situations a few miles down the road at Scott Stadium. 

Reyering admitted that there probably is more pressure in football, since missing a free kick is not exactly the same as a go-ahead field goal, but he also told the Daily Progress that he loves pressure and his career so far has proven that.

I, for one, am very interested to see what the future holds for Virginia.  I think Reyering might just be the right man for the job despite his utter lack of experience. 

A kicker needs a particular mindset; some might argue he even needs to be a little crazy.  Well Reyering, with his helicopter dance celebrations and brash personality may be just what the doctor ordered.  He even enjoyed being smacked around when they ran a fake in practice.

Reyering is never shy on confidence and has always shown an ability to bounce back from bad performances.

I may not know if this latest move by Groh will be genius or a disaster but I do know this: it'll be entertaining to watch.