By: Meaghan McNichol – Staff Writer
The University of Dayton football team has always been fortunate when it comes to having talented kickers.
William Will, a redshirt senior from Mokena, Illinois, has been no exception.
For the last four years, Will has been the Flyer’s starting kicker and did nothing but perform with exceptional consistency and accuracy.
“Will has helped us win a lot of games. That’s what he’s done, that’s the impact he’s had,” head coach Rick Chamberlin said. “As a head football coach, you feel very confident when you have a kicker that you know when you get the ball to your opponent’s 30 yard line, majority of the time you’re going to come away with some points.”
Will was recruited by Dayton as a senior in high school but they didn’t have any openings in camp for a kicker so he had to try out.
Despite having to walk on, Will was an asset to the team from the beginning.
“We noticed his leg strength right away. He impressed us right off the bat, even to the point where we considered using him as our kick off guy but I’m glad we didn’t now because we got another year of him kicking field goals for us,” Chamberlin said.
After his redshirt year, Will earned the position of starting kicker over an older player and went on to prove that he deserved it that year as he was recognized as an all-league kicker in the PFL.
Will never doubted that Dayton was a school where he would be able to succeed.
“Right away, I was treated with respect. I met some great people, my coaches and then my teammates. With that I’ve just gotten stronger throughout the years,” Will said.
Will has made a lot of memories in jersey number 96, one that especially stands out to Coach Chamberlin.
To Chamberlin, Will will always be the kicker who scored a touchdown.
That’s right. In a game against Marist in 2014, after Will kicked off he recovered a fumble and ran it about 40 yards for a touchdown.
That play landed Will in ESPN’s top ten plays of the week and as Coach Chamberlin would say, “makes him pretty special.”
While Will’s talent might be unmatched, the time for him to be replaced has come.
As the 2016 season ends and the coaches are forced to look on to the next season, a new kicker is one of the essential decisions that is going to have to be made.
Right now there are two upcoming juniors and a sophomore on the roster who will be competing for Will’s position. Chamberlin and the coaching staff frequently chart their kickers to keep track of who can kick the farthest and make the most field goals to be prepared for decisions like this.
“Those three young men will be battling it out during the spring but we will be bringing in a freshman kicker also to challenge them because we don’t have a returner,” Chamberlin said.
Although Will is sad to see this chapter of his life ending, he wishes nothing but the best for the future kickers. After five years as a Flyer, he has nothing but advice for them.
“Work hard in weight room and at practice. Focus. Watch the pro’s watch people in the NFL. Watch how they do it, how they carry themselves and try to take everything seriously and work hard,” Will said.
After graduation he hopes to live in Chicago and pursue a career in finance but Will is not giving up on his dream of football. He’s attending a camp in February to continue working on his skill.
While his time as a Flyer has expired, Will has left an impact on the team and future kickers that doesn’t have an expiration date.
“I think he had an impact on the present kickers and the kickers that we will be recruiting here because they see the kind of standards that we need for a young man to be our full-time kicker,” Chamberlin said.