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Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 4/2/2002

Teams look at Rockets' France

BY RON MUSSELMAN
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Former University of Toledo record-setting kicker Todd France won't be sitting around watching the NFL draft on television this month.

He is well aware of the fact that kickers rarely get drafted.

Only three were among the 246 players selected by NFL teams during the two-day, seven-round draft last April.

“It's really not that big of a deal to get drafted, especially for a kicker, because after the second round, nobody is really guaranteed anything,” France said yesterday. “I'm not expecting to get drafted, by any means. I'm just hoping to sign with a team [as a free agent] that is looking for good kicker.”

France, a 6-3, 185-pounder from Springfield High School, is rated the fourth-best kicker in the April 20-21 NFL draft by The Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly. Both publications rate Purdue's Travis Dorsch and Florida's Jeff Chandler as the top two kicking prospects.

“My goal is to get into an NFL camp, no matter what team it is, and go from there,” France said. “I just want a shot - that's all I can hope for.”

France, a four-year starter, owns virtually every Toledo kicking record, including most points (320), most PATs (152 of 154) and longest field goal (55 yards). He is the Mid-American Conference's all-time leading scorer among kickers and ranks second in both field goals made (56) and attempted (81) at UT.

France was a first-team All-MAC pick as a junior and an honorable-mention selection this past season. He also was a candidate for the Lou Groza Award - given to the nation's best kicker - both years.

Sometime this week, France will conduct a workout for Cleveland Browns special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg in the Glass Bowl.

“Everybody pretty much knows how accurate I am from watching film or scouting me in games,” France said. “The Browns, and pretty much everybody else, are interested in seeing me kick off. They want to see what kind of hang time I have and what kind of distance I have.

“That's the thing the NFL scouts are most worried about - the distance of my kickoffs.”

France said he has worked out for 12 NFL teams in the last three weeks.

“Most of the teams have come in here to see [tailback] Chester [Taylor],” France said. “He has a lot of leverage and it has helped get me a few workouts. It's always good to have someone like that on the team.

“Other than the Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins have showed the most interest in me.”

France, who carries a 3.97 grade-point average and will graduate next month with a degree in mechanical engineering, also has worked with a kicking specialist in recent weeks.

“After the season ended in December, I took about a month off from kicking to rest my leg,” he said. “Lately I've been running pretty much every day, kicking four days a week and lifting three days a week. And I've been practicing and working on my technique.

“I am pretty much at the disposal of the NFL scouts. If they want to come in and look at me, I have to be ready, and I have to be sharp.”

France connected on 27 of 36 field goals the last two seasons, and 93 of 94 PATs. He made all nine field-goal attempts from 18 to 29 yards, 12 of 15 from 30-39 yards, 5 of 11 from 40-49 and 1 of 1 from 50 and longer.

“You have to make your extra points and most of your field goals from 45 yards and in,” he said. “Consistency is real important in those areas. You also have to be pretty consistent from 45 yards and longer, but you can't make them all.”

If France doesn't hook on with an NFL team, he always can fall back on his studies. He was one of 29 male student-athletes who played a fall sport that was awarded a $5,000 NCAA post-graduate scholarship. He has five years to use that money.



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