Gonzales, California native Miguel Mendez says he has been kicking his entire life and joining a winning team like Grambling State University as their kicker is a dream come true.
“I had additional offers, but I decided to commit to Grambling because of the environment a football player has on campus,” he said. “Everyone is family at Grambling, and it feels like no other school has that same “Where Everybody Is Somebody” togetherness, whether it’s in the classroom or on the field.”
The future economics major says he feels this way because when he went to visit the university the coaches brought him in like he was already one of the members of the team. They even took time to explain to him the impact he would really have on the team.
“What they said gave me that extra boost of confidence, and made me that much more excited about becoming a Tiger,” he said. “I never realized how important I was to them.”
The encouraging words brought Mendez back to the day he remembers seeing a picture of one of his high school alumni, John Bannano, during his college days kicking for University of Arizona, and that’s when it clicked and the dream of playing college ball started for him.
Before committing, Mendez was able to watch a couple games last season, While watching the Tigers play all he could say was they never give up.
“That’s what I love to see on a team is the players never giving up until the last second is played.”
It was not an easy process for Mendez, but he’s never given up on the dream himself. He first got experience kicking as a soccer player, he’s been playing since he could walk. When he reached high school he took a shot at football, enjoyed it and was able to scored 21 goals, which is a record at his high school for the most goals in a season.
After graduating from high school he went to become the kicker at Hartnell Junior College, where he learned a lot from his coaches, but decided to take his skills to the next level, therefore, he transferred to GSU. Mendez is the first athlete in Gonzales to transfer to playing D1.
The new GSU kicker says he will arrive at the university this summer and the excitement he has is indescribable.
“I’m practicing everyday with my kicking coach and I’m just patiently waiting to be with my new family,” he said.
Throughout high school, the adrenaline to hit the college field flowed. The best part is the Palma High School kicker is not just excitement about joining a larger and skilled team, he’s excited about making the best contribution he can to get continuous big wins.
He has been practicing day in and day out because he knows how important it is for him to come in playing just as strong as the Tiger players who graduated last season.
“I am ready to touch the field because I know my new team can score in any all three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams and if we do all that we’ll come out on top each time.”
He said one big difference is the speed of the game. He explained that now there will be guys who can run 4.2 or 4.3 that are attempting to block the ball and I have to make sure that I have adjusted properly to the speed of the game.
As an incoming freshman, Mendez says he hopes to gain the coaches trust for when he goes up to kick in those field goals.
“I just always want to be able to get three points on a drive if our offense is unable to get the six,” he said. “At that point if I’m not I want to be able to take what me and the team didn’t quite execute on, go back to practice and come back stronger against our next opponents.”
Late last year Mendez got to meet former GSU star player, Chester Rogers, who is now the running back for NFL team. Indianapolis Colts. He said meeting him was great, and he gave him some advice that he will play with throughout his athletic collegiate career.
“When I saw him at Grambling, he told me the “G” stands for ‘Greatness’, that made me think that there is always the chance of playing professionally, I just have to make sure to put in the hard work in order to reach that goal like he did,” Mendez said.
He believes as a GSU kicker the pressure kicks during big college games will help him adapt to the NFL league’s environment.
“Some things all my former coaches taught me is to be dependable and always strive for greatness, and that legacy will live on at GSU.”
5-10 | 150 | Kicker/Punter | Hartnell Community College | Gonzales, Calif.
Mendez is a 5-10, 150 lbs. junior transfer from Hartnell Community College in Salinas, Calif. He is a Gonzales, Calif. native. For the 2016 season, he went 22 of 27 on point after attempts and eight field goals made with his longest being 42 yards.