By Erika Webb
They were ready for some football at Mainland High School Sunday, Feb. 9.
"They" included, but were not limited to, Miami Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis, New York Jets punter Ryan Quigley, University of Miami punter Patrick O'Donnell and Boston College First Team All American kicker Nate Freese.
What a lineup.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., more than 120 top Florida players ages 8 to 15 got to learn from legends and helped honor one.
The free clinic for kicking, punting and long snapping was hosted by Daytona Beach-based One On One Kicking and Coach Don Lundy, its Director of Kicking. It honored Volusia County coach, attorney and former Daytona Beach Mayor Bud Asher, who passed away last July.
Coach Lundy is a Mainland alumnus who played for the University of Miami from 2000-2002 and was a member of the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl Championship teams. He runs the year-round training program, Daytona's Elite, at One On One.
The weather was heaven sent and the young players were in the zone.
Colin Ibison, 13, is in the eighth grade at DeLand Middle School. He plays Pop Warner Football but has his sights set on a higher goal.
His dad arranged for Colin to work with Coach Lundy at One On One. His school's assistant principal recommended him for the clinic, Colin said.
Former Hampton University punter Jahmal Blanchard, who works for One On One, patiently worked with Colin and other young players on the punting side. He good naturedly reminded them these weren't the same as soccer kicks.
Coach Blanchard praised Colin for getting it right.
Colin said he plans to continue honing his skills and wants to play for University High in Orange City or for Mainland in Daytona Beach.
Mainland Coach Arthur Westbrook's sons Jhavin Westbrook, 6, and Terrance Henry, 9, were on the field. Each was determined, focused and putting his best foot forward.
Mom, Danette Westbrook, a Mainland alumna, watched proudly.
The boys' brother, AJ Westbrook, a junior who plays football at Mainland, has been offered a football scholarship to Duke, she said.
One On One's founder Mike McCabe, who once punted in the pre-season for the Chicago Bears, said nine active NFL players have trained or still train with his Adidas-sponsored organization.
"We had three Ray Guy winners in a row -- 2010, 2011 and 2012," Coach McCabe said. "Coach Lundy and I are the first coaches to have a Ray Guy and Lou Groza award together in 2012."
Former Louisiana Tech punter Ryan Allen won the Ray Guy Award for College Punter of the Year in 2011 and 2012. And former Tulane kicker Cairo Santos won the Lou Groza Award for College Kicker of the Year in 2012. Chas Henry, who won the punter job with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012 then signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013, won the Ray Guy Award for College Punter of the Year in 2010.
Coach McCabe said the majority of the college and NFL players "came up" through One On One's year-round program. The organization has 19 locations nationwide and helps its trainees get scholarships.
"The players are like our sons. When we ask of them to give back, they do," he said. "A lot trained with us as youngsters. We try to expose youth around here to them to show them 'you guys can become these guys.'"
Ryan Quigley enjoyed his first season in the NFL with the Jets. He learned he's still developing.
Punter/kickers have an advantage over other players when it comes to transitioning from college to the NFL, he said.
Quarterbacks are up against tougher opponents, the best of the best.
"As a punter/kicker it's different for us, nothing really changes because we're still punting and kicking just like we were," Mr. Quigley said. "It's a different environment with more pressure, but it's very exciting. I've learned a lot about myself and gained confidence."
In the off season he's working with Coach McCabe to fine tune his skills.
"I'm learning a lot about myself," Mr. Quigley added. "As a kid I idolized professional athletes and thought it would be so cool to play sports (as a career). God has blessed me."
PFWA All Rookie and a fifth round draft pick out of the University of Florida, Miami Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis agreed the NFL game is markedly different from the college game for quarterbacks, like Tim Tebow.
"If you're kicking the ball right and you continue to kick the ball, you continue to get better," Mr. Sturgis said.
He enjoyed his first season in the NFL, but improving is on his mind. He said he didn't do as well as he wanted to.
"I want to make strides between the first and second seasons," he said.
Strides were what it was all about at Mainland on Feb. 9. Best efforts were put forth and for those who will stay the course, it was just the beginning.
Watching it all, Mrs. Asher was emotional.
"I'm just thrilled to see what Dan's doing," she said. "Bud would be thrilled. It's sunny and he's looking down ... Dan is such a good man. The last few years, Bud couldn't have been out here if it wouldn't have been for Dan."