Fort Mill’s Taylor Sheets can handle the pressure of being a football kicker/punter.
He traversed a gauntlet of interviews Monday during a ceremony in which he was presented with his jersey for the Semper Fidelis All-American bowl game, all in front of the watchful eyes of his family. Where some teenaged males would have gummed up, Sheets showed the cool under fire that helped land him a spot in the prestigious fifth-year all-star game put on by the Marine Corps.
“When I did get the call, it was overwhelming,” he said. “It was great to know my years of hard work have paid off.”
“Taylor’s been with us for four years now and every year his goals have gotten bigger,” said Fort Mill coach Ed Susi, “and so has his leg. He tells me, believe me.”
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Taylor Sheets’ older sister, Ashley, played soccer at West Point and is now serving her post-grad tour in the Army.
Sheets earned his spot in the Semper Fidelis game - set for Jan. 3 in Carson, Calif. - by excelling at the Kohl kicking camp last summer in Wisconsin. The camp picks the kickers and punters for the Under Armour and Semper Fidelis high school all-star games, and Sheets played well during his time there, standing out from a field of hundreds of high school kickers.
The Kohl camp said - in its evaluation of Sheets - that he has a D1 leg, but Dan Orner - a Charlotte-based kicking coach who’s worked extensively with Sheets - said it’s protege’s attention to technique and details that will make him a college kicker or punter.
“Being a smart kicker is one of the things I try to teach these guys,” Orner said on Monday. “He constantly checks in with me with film, with form, week by week. He’s taken a college, pro mentality at the age of 18, which is setting him up to have a successful career going on to college. It will make his transition a lot better.”
Orner said that Sheets’ value at the next level comes from his versatility.
The 6-foot-3 senior is able to kick off, place-kick and punt equally well, which increases the likelihood of not only kicking at the next level, but doing so soon after arriving on campus. Sheets’ punts get excellent hang-time, which Orner said will allow college coaches to “sleep well at night knowing they’re getting fair catches.” Sheets has kicked for coaches from Arkansas State, Lehigh, Northwestern, UNC, South Carolina, Clemson and a host of other schools. He has no offers yet, but plenty of interest.
Sheets has no set plans on when to decide where to play college football.
“I’m really trying to use this as exposure,” he said. “I think going out there on the national stage will help with recruiting.”