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Doug Smock: Athletic Vedvik battling for Marshall special teams spot

Photo courtesy Marshall University
Marshall’s Kaare Vedvik said he stayed in Huntington over the summer to work with strength coach Luke Day in order to get in the best shape possible as he tries to lock down a special teams job for the Thundering Herd in 2017.

HUNTINGTON — I don’t want you to toss out that preseason magazine just yet, but know there probably will be one glaring error in the Marshall lineup.

It would come at kicker, at least in the areas of field goals and extra points.

Bear in mind, there are still 26 or 27 days left, depending on when you read this, until the Thundering Herd’s season opener Sept. 2 against Miami (Ohio). I am reminded of Justin Haig’s annual rise from out of contention in early August to superhero status, shushing opposing fans and becoming a championship game MVP.

My, the 2013-14 Herd teams were fun, weren’t they?

Back to the present, you will find Parade All-American kicker Cole Phillips listed as the starter, and why not? The Herd has been dismal in the last season and a half on three-pointers, hitting just nine of its last 22.

Incumbent Amareto Curraj is still in the running and he is an excellent kickoff man, but I think he has played his way out on field goals. Phillips was not at practice Friday or Saturday, so he may be injured. Robert LeFevre is competing well enough to push the others.

But when I wrote my Lindy’s preview back in the spring, I hadn’t taken into account Kaare Vedvik, who came here as a kicker and was trained to punt last season. In the first week and a half of practice, he has been thumping footballs between the uprights.

Last year as a punter, he averaged an even 40 yards over 70 kicks, with a long of 72. He was seventh in Conference USA, and the Herd’s net punting of 36.6 yards was eighth.

Not bad, but not special. But the 6-foot-4, 207-pound native of Stavenger, Norway, did something over the summer to put some power in that foot.

Actually, the idea is to put more power in the whole body, not just the foot.

“I’ve been training all summer. I’ve stayed here in the summer with [strength] coach [Luke] Day, took training work and I wanted to get in the best shape possible,” Vedvik said. “I want to maximize my potential physically as well — as an athlete, not just as a kicker.”

You look at him and, yes, he’s an athlete, much more so than the 5-8 Haig back in the day. (Sorry about that, Justin.)

Vedvik grew up a soccer player, and has worked at every position but striker. He also ran track and field, advancing to Norway’s junior nationals in the 60- and 200-meter runs. He also competed in the long jump.

In his junior year of high school, which he spent as an exchange student in McPherson, Kansas, his best event was the triple jump. He also was talked into running the 400.

He didn’t mention if bribery was involved, but it should have been. I have covered a number of track meets, and very few athletes consider the 400 their favorite — even when it is their best race. You can’t sprint the whole way around the track, but you’ll pay for pacing yourself.

Vedvik was nominated for the event because of those long, strong legs, but that didn’t start well.

“My first 400, I got to 300 my very first [race] and I just said … I just stopped and walked off the track,” he said with a laugh. “Everybody’s [stunned], because I was leading the race, too. ‘What’s going on?’ I’ve even got footage of it; it’s pretty funny.

“After that, I PR’d [set a personal record] every meet.”

So if Vedvik wins the field-goal derby, does he punt, too? Remember, freshman Shane McDonough is in the running there.

I’m not sure where coach Doc Holliday and staff fall on a kicker taking on a dual role. Some coaches are allergic to the mere thought, a philosophy to which I cannot agree.

You have to go back to Anthony Binswanger in 2007-08 as the last to do both in a full season. He added punting on short notice before that forgettable 2007 campaign, and did most of the punting the next year.

Before that, it was Curtis Head, the thunder-footed punter who took on placekicking in 2001-02 and was as good as Herd followers have seen at both.

In the weeks head, we’ll see if Vedvik can kick his way into double duty. It’s early, but he is making a good case.

Contact Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsmock@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @dougsmock and read his blog at http://blogs.wvgazettemail.com/dougsmock/.

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