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ROOKIE SPOTLIGHT: Zach Hocker

Posted Jul 24, 2014

During training camp, Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda will provide an in-depth look at the drafted rookies, both on and off the field. Today's spotlight is on Zach Hocker.

While rookie Zach Hocker was honored to be the only kicker taken in the 2014 NFL Draft, he knows that a starting spot with the Washington Redskins is not a given.

Hocker – the University of Arkansas’ record holder for career points – is one of two kickers on the roster at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center for training camp.

The other kicker?

Kai Forbath.

Forbath, of course, set a record of his own in 2012 when he made his first 17 field goal attempts – the most ever to start a career. Over his two seasons with the Redskins, the former UCLA Bruin has booted 35 of his 40 field goal tries through the uprights.

Although the two have started their competition for kicking duties in Richmond, Hocker has been leaning on Forbath since being drafted and said the two are “here for each other.”

“We understand that it’s a competition, but we also have a friendship and we aren’t here to hunt each other,” Hocker explained. “We are here to help each other every day. Whatever the coaches decide to do will be the decision and will go forward from there.”

When the Redskins spent their second of two seventh-round picks on Hocker, he became the first kicker drafted by the Redskins since Jeff Hall in 1999.

Knowing the history of his position and how some of his peers either simply don’t make it to the NFL or last only a few seasons at most, Hocker said being drafted was a “dream come true.”

“It was a dream come true to know that you will get a chance to play in the NFL, especially getting drafted by a team with such a long history like the Washington Redskins and a team of this caliber,” Hocker exclaimed. “It was a dream come true.”

Working With Special Teams Coordinator Ben Kotwica
While Kotwica is entering his eighth NFL season as a coach, he spent a good chunk of his adulthood in the military.

So it isn’t shocking that Hocker said Kotwica can get pretty strict from time to time.

“He has a military background, so he can be sort of strict sometimes,” Hocker said. “But at the same time, he demands highly of his players and I expect nothing less of a special teams coach that demands the most out of his players.”

One facet of Hocker’s game Kotwica has been a big help with has been his mental approach.   

“He keeps you humble,” Hocker said. “When you’re a drafted kicker, you can walk in with a lot of confidence, not saying that I don’t, but he keeps you humble and not be overly confident. At the same time, he makes you work for what you get.”

“He’s a good coach to be under.”

Five W’s And One H

What is there to do in your hometown of Russellville, Ark.?
“There’s not much to do in Russellville. You go to school, and if you’re not doing something outdoors, there’s not much else to do. It’s a great place to grow up, but Washington, D.C. has a lot more to offer.”

Who do you model your game after?“I looked up to [New Orleans Saints specialist] Thomas Morstead and a lot of the punters in the league. Kai has had a lot of success, too. I definitely try to be like him, but I just try to do my best and learn from as many players as I can.”

Why did you choose football over soccer?
“Honestly, I was recruited to play soccer too. Football came along and offered me a better scholarship and I felt like it was the decision that God wanted me to make. It ended up working out, so I can’t complain.”

When did you decide to cut your afro-like hair in your Rivals picture?
“Can’t remember, but it was getting hot under that helmet and so I didn’t have a choice. I had to cut it.”

How do you ease your nerves before a big kick?
“It’s hard to. It comes with routine, and you learn how to cope with what’s going on. You approach every kick like it’s an extra point whether it’s a 50 yarder or an extra point. You just picture yourself kicking it through.”

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