FARGO — Fargo Shanley head football coach Troy Mattern has been quite the run of having standout kickers. When he was at Fargo South, he had Jake Weiler and Josh Weiler, with Jake going on to play NCAA Division I soccer at Nebraska-Omaha and Josh kicking at Division II University at Mary.
At Shanley, Mattern coached Jake Reinholz, who was North Dakota State’s kicker in the FCS national championship game in January. In junior Emmet Kenney, Mattern may have found his best one yet.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” Mattern said.
Recruiting fortune on Kenney is heating up, thanks to a couple of good offseason performances: a Kohl’s Kicking Camp showcase in Chicago in December, which led to an invitation to an “underclassmen challenge” in Orlando, Fla., in January. The schools who have been recruiting him are NDSU, Kansas State, SMU, Minnesota, Brown and Columbia. Mattern said a coach from Kohl’s is talking with Western Illinois, South Dakota and North Dakota.
Nobody has offered a scholarship and Kenney said he’s in no rush to make a decision. In college football recruiting, specialists often end up toward the later end of a recruiting cycle.
“I’ll see where I’ll be at in a few months,” Kenney said. “If it was an offer I couldn’t turn down perhaps I would do it.”
Leg strength is a strength. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Kenney has been successful in practice from 55 to 60 yards. Last fall at Shanley, he was 7 of 8 inside 40 yards.
“I trust myself 50 and in,” Kenney said.
His performance at the Orlando camp has him ranked No. 45 in the Kohl’s national kicker rankings. The problem with the COVID-19 pandemic is the hope to compete at several camps this summer and get in front of college coaches may be put on hold.
“He continues to get stronger, you just know a good kicker, the ball comes off his foot totally different than anybody else,” Mattern said. “In high school football, that is such a big weapon.”
Mattern said Kenney’s kickoffs consistently travel 70 yards, which makes for an automatic touchback in high school football. There’s nothing that makes a high school defensive coordinator smile more than the thought of a team having to go 80 yards vs. a good kickoff return.
“Emmet is working on the weight room stuff, getting stronger,” Mattern said. “He’s working hard at it. The sky's the limit. He’s going to be kicking on Saturdays, no doubt.”
Kenney was planning on attending NDSU’s “Junior Day” until it got canceled. With the NCAA recruiting dead period extending until May 31, he can’t go on a campus visit anywhere. He thinks former Bison head coach Chris Klieman, whose kids attended Shanley, may have played a role in K-State contacting him. Kenney has been in touch with a Wildcat assistant coach.
He hopes to attend K-State’s summer camp.
“It’s football at the highest level, certainly I’ll keep that as an available option,” Kenney said. “I haven’t narrowed down a list to say I want this or I want that. It’s important for a kicker to keep the options open.”