Who knew that the 1 2 3… 5 6 7… actually helps in football?
- Dany J -
Home News Tribune Online 12/21/06
By PAUL FRANKLIN
PISCATAWAY â€” Joe Radigan’s punting really stepped up this season and the major reason may literally be steps.
The steps have nothing to do with approaching the ball. These steps are dancing steps. Salsa steps.
It may be more than coincidence that Radigan’s senior year coincides with his status as president of the Rutgers Salsa Club.
Following Rutgers football practice yesterday evening on the grass fields, Radigan’s dancing authenticity was highly questioned. He glanced over at senior Brian Leonard for confirmation.
“It’s true. Show him some steps,” said Leonard, waiting to be interviewed while sitting on a bench in the chilly air.
Hesitant at first, Radigan then humored a small group of people.
“All right; I’ll do some steps real quick. You go like this,” Radigan said as he took a few steps back before busting some moves forward.
Leonard cracked up as No. 30 in white yelled back at his teammate.
“Right, don’t I do Salsa? It’s not a joke,” Radigan insisted. “Last year I was treasurer, this year I’m president.”
Once a week at the College Avenue Gym, students come and practice their steps or take lessons. Sometimes Radigan actually turns instructor.
“The reason I started was because in high school I’d go to dances and they played a lot of Spanish music,” said Radigan, who went to Hoboken High. “I didn’t know how to dance to that so I’d go off to the side or sit down. So I decided, “Why not give it a shot?’
“I’m not quite sure if there is a correlation with punting, but I know you hear about some guys doing ballet, yoga and stuff like that. So why not this? If it makes me a little more nimble on my feet or more graceful,” he said, “so be it. But I’m no expert.”
He has become an expert in punting.
His 44.1-yard average led the Big East and ranks ninth nationally. He has had 20 kicks downed inside the 20, has five touchbacks, and boomed the ball high and long enough to cause 11 fair catches. Not once has he had a kick blocked.
A year ago he had two blocked, while averaging 39.3 yards. Coming on near the end of last season, Radigan really stepped up on national TV in the Insight Bowl, booming three kicks for an average of 50.3 yards.
This year he not only punted for yardage, but also came up with key boot after key boot to leave teams looking at 90-yard drives or kicking Rutgers out of trouble.
One of his punts traveled 78 yards this season.
The result of his success has brought newfound attention, both with congratulations from students, encouragement from fans and appreciation from teammates.
With seniors like Leonard, Clark Harris, Shawn Tucker, Devraun Thompson, William Beckford, Quintero Frierson and Manny Collins receiving much of the attention in their final season, Radigan has certainly had his share of recognition.
“It’s definitely fun and enjoyable to have people on your side,” he said of being successful. “I’ve had a lot of people come up to me, people I don’t even know, telling me, “Oh, you’re doing a great job.’
“I went to my friend’s holiday party the other day,” he added. “I’m in the bathroom and this guy started talking to me. He said, “You’re tall, you must play basketball.’ I said, “Actually I play football.’ He’s like, “Oh, who do you play for.’ I said, “Rutgers.’ He said, “You play for Rutgers now?’ He’s like, “What number are you.’ I said, “No. 30′ He says, “You’re Joe Radigan, the punter?’
“Little moments like that are kind of funny; they’re actually enjoyable,” Radigan said. “But they’re kind of awkward in a way that people know who you are, just by knowing your number or your name.”
Then there are others who know him by his dance steps.
Either way, it’s a kick.