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Will Reichard is more than Alabama’s football weapon. It is a necessity

Michael Brown walked in front of his students on September 1. 13 years old and started the classroom the same way he did for most of his 23 years as an educator. A former associate head coach at Hoover, now in Vestavia Hills, Brown begins each day with a motivational speech, aptly titled Coach Brown’s Words of Wisdom.

“The quiet work, the work you do that creates calloused hands and leads to championships,” Brown said, “People don’t do that stuff anymore. It’s rare. It’s an outlier.

When Brown searched his memory for an exemplary “quiet worker,” the choice was obvious: Will Reichard.

Brown had coached the Alabama placekicker in high school and was in love with Reichard’s focus. He remembers looking out the window and seeing Reichard driving up to Hoover’s training ground in his truck, turning up the radio dial, and throwing a bag of balls onto the turf. Crimson Tide fans get a sneak peek of it on Saturday. But, according to those who have seen him operate in person, it goes deeper.

“I would say that in my 20 plus years of coaching kickers and working with colleges, of anyone I’ve ever coached, I’ve never had more confidence in anyone as a as a high school and college player,” National Specialist Coach Chris Sailer told AL.com, “The only one who comes close to the mentality is Justin Tucker.”

The legend of Will Reichard has spread and grown this fall. How many college kickers are compared to future NFL Hall of Famers like Tucker? How many have had a perfect season? Are you a child’s hero? Have a Cameo account? Alabama’s “weapon” and fan favorite, however, could play a bigger role this year. With the seemingly slimmer margin of error for the Tide, Reichard has become a necessity.

He kicked the winner of Alabama’s game last Saturday, the school’s first since 2005. As the Tide offense finds its new stars alongside Bryce Young, the certainty fans feel when Reichard lines up — a reversal of the Achilles heel of Dynasty in years past — can show up in more high-pressure situations like it was against Texas.

Don’t expect the pressure to get to him, and if it does, don’t expect to see him on the pitch. The consistency that brought Reichard to Tuscaloosa and to the Lou Groza Prize watch lists is the same mindset that those who worked with Reichard know he thrills.

“Some people just live for this, the preparation and those moments,” Brown said. “…They get to this point and their minds are clear, they’re focused and it’s just the next rep for them.”

Alabama kicker Will Reichard (16) watches his winning field goal against Texas in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, September 1. October 10, 2022, in Austin, Texas. Alabama beat Texas 20-19. (AP Photo/Rodolfo Gonzalez)PA

Reichard matched a career 52 yards in Austin, a far cry from the days of senior pop rushers. A middle-aged Reichard once had to ask his coach if he could start scoring goals on the pitch. Sailer, who has worked with Reichard since sixth grade, saw it from the start.

Like all athletes who occupy the most thankless position in football, Reichard has this “unshakable confidence”. While some will try to put more leg in a kick during a rut, or look for anything to fix, they’ll end up creating another problem, Reichard has the goldfish mentality to overlook a miss or a big hit. and tackle the next one with weighted composition.

While at Hoover, Brown was able to spot when Reichard was locked up. He wore the singular focus on his face with a furrowed brow, slightly narrowed eyes. While winning two state championships, he made 27 of 31 field goals and never missed an extra point on 109 tries. It’s 44 for 53 in Alabama.

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Reichard is proud of his profession. He and Brown didn’t celebrate converted field goals, but instead engineered a handshake for when Reichard bombarded a touchback. After catching the tee, Reichard swept the sideline for Brown before the pair went through the air to meet, at Southern California, running backs Reggie Bush and Lendale White.

Reichard also didn’t have a signature move in Tuscaloosa. Still, he struck his right arm three times after the go-ahead try against Texas, presumably patting ice through his veins.

“An emotional kicker that lets emotions control them is no longer a weapon,” Brown said, “But the kicker that uses emotion to drive them, and you see it after success, that’s what it is. Will.”

Sailer doesn’t have a surefire way to test a kicker’s mental makeup. It is almost impossible to recreate the atmosphere of when the game is online. Instead, Sailer brings the best together in one place and watches how they handle it. Reichard, from camps to determine spots on All-American teams to showcases with NFL veterans, remains neutral.

There’s a reason Nick Folk, currently a member of the New England Patriots, told Sailer he wouldn’t want to challenge Reichard. There’s a reason Nick Saban told Sailer he “did his job” with his Reichard recommendation four years ago.

And, there’s a reason defensive back DeMarcco Hellams knew the 33-yarder against Texas was good as soon as Reichard got ready with 10 seconds left.

As Sailer said, “(Reichard) is exactly the same and that’s what’s different.”

Nick Alvarez is a reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @nick_a_alvarez or email him at NALvarez@al.com.

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