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August 28, 2013
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Just over three months ago, Elliott Fry graduated from Prince of Peace Christian School in Carrollton, Texas. Now he is just a day away from running onto the field against the North Carolina Tar Heels, fireworks blasting and "2001" blaring, as South Carolina's starting place-kicker.
A talented kicker who handled all the punting and kicking duties in high school, Fry hit 49 of 50 extra points attempts and eight of nine field goals his senior season and was ranked the eighth-best kicker in the nation by Chrissailerkicking.com. But he received just one scholarship offer - to Louisiana Tech - to show for it.
By chance, USC special teams coach Joe Robinson knew a coach from Fry's high school league and inquired about a kickoff guy. That's when Robinson heard about Fry, and the senior was soon offered the opportunity to come to South Carolina as a preferred walk-on.
Fry jumped at the chance to kick for an SEC school, enrolling at South Carolina July 7th with the mindset that he would contend for the starting job right away. He was initially buried behind redshirt sophomore Landon Ard and scholarship kicker Nick St. Germain on the depth chart, but it now appears Fry has separated himself from the pack after just a month and a half.
"It's awesome, I love it," said Fry after practice Monday night. "I certainly wasn't expecting this, but I'm glad to be here."
Fry's transition to the college level will include moving from a private high school team of about 30 players onto a college team that has finished in the nation's top 10 each of the past two seasons. It will mean kicking in cavernous stadiums, rather than sparsely populated bleachers.
Though a huge part of place-kicking is being able to perform under pressure, Fry appears unfazed by the task ahead of him.
"They create pressure situations out there (in practice), coach Elliott yelling a lot, but it's our job to handle it," Fry said.
"Some of the scrimmages have been almost like game-time situations," Fry added. "Obviously you can't get 80,000 fans out here, but they do a pretty good job at trying to create pressure situations. There's enough pressure just trying to start for the job, and having them yell at you and stuff on the field. I feel confident that I'm ready for Thursday."
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