Longtime punter Thomas Morstead hopes hi

  • If one was to drive past Texas' Pearland High School roughly 20 years ago, there's a good chance they would have seen a teenager punting footballs on an empty practice field. That teenager, , has gone on to enjoy a long, highly succe sful career as an punter that included being an integral part of one of the https://www.shopprobruins.com/boston-bruins-women-jersey biggest plays in history.Not many people, especially Morstead, envisioned that type of succe s two decades ago. A 5-foot, 90-pound freshman, Morstead quit football after breaking two bones in his leg in his first high school game. He returned to his first love, soccer, but continued to make the short walk from his home to the practice field to kick footballs at his leisure."I just didn't feel like I belonged on a football field," Morstead said during a recent interview with CBS Sports. "So I didn't play anymore after that and just focused on soccer."Obviously, Morstead's story doesn't end there. In fact, that was just the beginning of a fascinating journey, one that actually began several years earlier during a family visit to an English farming village. MIA P #4 A product of his era, Morstead grew up during America's soccer boom of the early-to-mid '90s. While football was and continues to grow as America's most popular pastime, it wasn't until Morstead visited the farming village (which was in close proximity to Grimsby) when he first was introduced to American football.And even then, it wasn't truly football that Morstead was introduced to. His uncle, Charles Salmon, thrust a rugby ball into Morstead's hands for the first time and taught him how to drop kick along with other fundamentals of kicking.Morstead picked up a liking to it almost immediately. He began challenging himself to kick the ball above the roof of his cousin's home and into the front yard. "He was the first one who was ever like, 'Here's how you try to punt a spiral,'" Morstead said of his uncle. "Obviously, a rugby ball is rounder then a football. I think it's easier to learn to punt a spiral with a rugby ball. It's something I picked up quickly. People like going to hit golf balls on the driving range. I used to practice going out on my street and practice punting spirals."Morstead's mother, Isobel, moved to the United States when she was 18. She moved there with her new husband, https://www.shopprobruins.com/brandon-carlo-men-jersey John Morstead, who was pursuing a career in profe sional cycling. John Morstead was at the Olympic Festival in 1986, the year the couple gave birth to their son, Thomas."He was such a good model," Morstead said of his father, who put together a highly succe sful cycling career. "I don't really remember him saying much to me as a kid (about competing in sports). I just watched him and the way that he was dedicated with his sport. He wanted to be the best that he could be at it. https://www.shopprobruins.com/frank-vatrano-men-jersey I think that was something that I was fortunate to have. A model of not talking about it but being about it." Despite being one of the leading scorers on his soccer team as a junior, Morstead didn't make the soccer team going into his senior year. Devastated, Morstead's mom recommended he give football a second chance. Son listened to mother, and the result was life-changing."They had tried to get me to come out sophomore year and junior year, but I just didn't want to do it," he recalled. "But by then I was 6-foot-4 and went from one of the shortest kids in school to one of the tallest, and had still continued kicking playing soccer."They let me be on the team and as the season went on, I kind of took over the starting spot. I had a really fun senior experience. ... I didn't think that I was anything special in high school. I probably averaged 35 or 36 yards per punt. But I remember my coach telling me he'd never seen anyone punt a spiral like me. Even though I wasn't kicking it tremendously far." Morstead thought his career was over after that, but that quickly started to change after colleges expre sed interest in him. Morstead recalls being pulled out of cla s three times in a single week to meet with college representatives.Those visits peaked Morstead's interest in playing in college. His high school coach, Tony Heath, also played a significant role in encouraging him to take his talents to the next level."My high school coach really thought I had a chance to walk on, especially if I got serious about training and getting stronger," Morstead said. "I had never lifted weights before. Once that became an idea of something I could do, I got pretty serious about it and decided that I was going to try to walk on in college, and that's what I did." Morstead's mother, a year after recommending that her son https://www.shopprobruins.com/tommy-wingels-jersey give football another chance, also played a big role in the next chapter of her son's football life. With Morstead having already been accepted into SMU's engineering school, Isobel Morstead called Mustangs head coach Phil Bennett on behalf of her son.Because he was already enrolled at the school, it didn't matter that SMU had already filled each of its walk-on spots. Morstead, his mother explained to the head coach, simply wanted to try out for the team."Oh, well, great," Bennett said over the phone. "He can be part of training camp and two-a-days. And once school starts, he can come the first day, and as long as he shows up on time and is here for workouts, we'll have him on our team." The situation was perfect for the 18-year-old Morstead. While many college freshmen loathe the thought of not playing, Morstead relished the chance to solely work on himself without the pre sure of performing on Saturdays."I needed that two years of being some guy who nobody knew, but I was training every day and lifting and running with the team," he said. "I think I went to school at 182, and two years later I was 225. I had some major development that needed to happen."Morstead also heeded the advice of the team's starting punter, Ryan Mentzel, who offered some transparency to his young teammate. "I was not ready to play. Mentzel told me that my freshman year," Morstead said. "He said, 'You're a talented kid. I think you're going to end up being really good, but you're not going to play while I'm here. If I'm you, I'm spending every bit of time developing yourself so that when it is your turn to have that opportunity to win the job, you're ready.' That made sense to me, and I was appreciative for that advice."Morstead was ready when the opportunity presented itself in 2006. He won the starting job and had the school's highest punting average since of SMU's "Pony Expre s" heyday. The season was the first of three consecutive all-conference campaigns for Morstead, who was firmly on the radar of by the time he was done at SMU.Along with becoming arguably college https://www.shopprobruins.com/zdeno-chara-men-jersey football's best kicker, Morstead developed as an overall person during his time in college. "I was socially unconfident when I went into college," he said. "Just getting yourself together, disciplining yourself, getting stronger, dedicatin