EHS graduate Amado Villerreal place kicking for Northwestern

Posted 10/29/08

Tom Munds Kicking the football for Englewood High School helped Amado Villarreal develop his skills to the point he was able to walk on at …

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EHS graduate Amado Villerreal place kicking for Northwestern


Tom Munds

Kicking the football for Englewood High School helped Amado Villarreal develop his skills to the point he was able to walk on at Northwestern University.

In his final two years with the Pirates, Villarreal made 10 of 21 field goals and 45 of 51 extra-point tries and averaged 62.7 yards when he kicked off for Englewood.

The 2004 EHS graduate kicked his first field goal for Northwestern in the 2005 Sun Bowl and won the starting place kicking job in 2007.

Villarreal retained his job this year. So far, he has made 15 of 18 field goals and is on track to break the Northwestern single-season field goal record of 20. He is the team scoring leader with 65 points and probably will break his own single-season scoring record of 72 points and could make it into the school’s top-10 scoring leader, a list that begins at 78 points.

He kicked three field goals in the game against Michigan and was the Sept. 22 Big Ten Special Team Player of the week as he booted three field goals and an extra point, making it the second week in a row he had scored in double figures.

Villarreal took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk to the Englewood Herald about his football career, his college career and his plans for the future.

This is your final year at Northwestern so how are things going?

The year is going well. The team is playing well and I am kicking well so far this year. It’s fun and I’m enjoying kicking for Northwestern.

Talk a little about your five years with the Northwestern football team.

I came in as a walk on and the coaches decided to redshirt me that first season. That means I work out and practice just like everyone else but I don’t suit up or play in games. The next year, I made the team and this is my fourth season as a kicker. The decision to redshirt me was a good one because it helped me get acclimated to the speed and intensity of college football and the demands of being a student athlete. It also helped me refine my kicking skills so I was more focused and kicked more consistently.

Has your kicking technique changed dramatically since you kicked for Englewood?

There really isn’t a huge change in the basic technique but I have grown stronger and improved my skills over the years, so I am now a much better kicker. In high school, I just went out and kicked the football and I was still a kid when I came to Northwestern. The coaches helped me refine my skills and now I know what is expected of me when I take the field and I know where I need to put the football. I focus and make sure I go through the same routine the same way every time I kick the ball.

Talk about your regular routine as a college football player.

Our days start about 7 a.m. each morning. On a typical week, we don’t practice Monday but report to the stadium to debrief on last week’s game, stretch and work with light weights. We put on full pads Tuesday and go through a full practice. Wednesday and Thursday we wear just shoulder pads for practice. We are limited to a maximum of 20 hours on-field practice a week. Friday we report to the stadium at about 10 a.m. If it is an away game, we load up and travel. If is it a home game, we have meetings, eat meals together as a team, have chapel and see a movie. Either way, we stay at a hotel so we are away from the distractions of campus. Saturday is game day and Sunday is our day off.

Where do classes and studies fit into your schedule?

All the practices are scheduled in the morning so we are finished by about 11 a.m. That way, we can have the afternoon and evening for classes and study time. Of course, we know we are expected to manage our academic schedule so we make good grades and stay eligible.

You have stayed busy. What has five years of college football taught you?

One big lesson football has taught me is time management. I am kept busy with school, football and I am very active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I learned to be part of the team and get along well with all the other 100 guys on the team. Also, being on the team and on the field, I learned to handle and manage situations when we win and when we don’t. I believe I have learned lessons from athletics and from football that I can apply to anything I might face in life.

Have you completed your degree requirements?

Yes. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in June. Now, I am enrolled in a one-year master’s degree program in project management.

What are your plans for the future?

Like every other guy that played football, I’d love to play pro but is is very difficult to break into the NFL as a kicker. We’ll see how the season goes and what happens with the NFL draft. It would be awesome to play professional football and I will give it a try if the opportunity presents itself. However, if there are no NFL offers, I have received a great education here at Northwestern and I feel confident I can pursue a great and challenging career in engineering.


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