Kicking and Punting coach, Brian Jackson of Team Jackson Kicking knew Izzy Hernandez had something special in the sport of Football. He saw him kick and punt at a TJK Showcase Camp in July of 2012 before his senior season in Montgomery, AL. ‘Izzy has a lot of fight in him. He is very humble, and has learned a lot through a rough time dealing with this injury,’ Jackson says. ‘I saw him at 100% last summer, and then I saw him at about 10% after he was cleared in January of 2013. Once he came to one of my group sessions, he was able to knock through a 41 yard field goal. After that, I told him, Izzy, any time you have doubt over the next couple months, remember you are at 10% and still hitting through a 40+ yard field goal. Be mentally strong while you rehab, and keep your faith. I think that’s when it stuck with him to keep driving until he got his chance.’
After Izzy had an early season-ending injury his senior year, there was a lot of doubt going through Izzy’s mind about seeing the field again, especially in college. ‘In my first game of my senior season, minutes before half time, I went out for a punt,’ Izzy says. ‘Snap was a bit wobbly but I was able to get the ball off, and next thing I know a guy from the other team rolled into me and took my knee out. It sounded like a tree branch snapping in half so I expected to look over and see something gruesome.’ By the next week Izzy had major surgery and was on crutches.
We had some questions for Izzy as this is a special story. It’s not very likely for a kicker or punter to have a crucial injury their senior year, and miss out on a important attempts on field goals and kickoffs, and still earn a scholarship at the next level. Coach Jackson did some Q and A with Izzy.
TJK: How long have you been kicking a football?
Izzy: It all started in 8th grade. I had no idea what football was or even knew they had kickers. My middle school was in need of a kicker and one of my buddies suggested that I’d try it out since I had a strong background in soccer. I went out just to try it and I was surprisingly good at it so I stuck to it.
TJK: Did you play soccer when you were younger? Did that help with kicking a football?
Izzy: I grew up playing soccer since I can remember. I believe it all worked out for me. It wasn’t very hard switching from a soccer ball to a football.
TJK: When did you know you wanted to play at the next level? What other kickers or punters did you look up to during your career?
Izzy: Going into my freshman season, after a successful 8th grade season I decided I wanted to stick to it and try my best to make it to the next level. The first kicker I really admired and followed was Hunter Lawrence kicker for Texas. However my all time favorite kicker is Blair Walsh, former kicker for UGA. His final season with the Bulldogs didn’t go too well for him but he never gave up and look at him now. I want a similar story as his!
TJK: What happened your senior season with the injury? Were you able to play any games during the season?
Izzy: I had to be helped off the field and ended up standing on the sideline on crutches for the rest of the game. I went in for an MRI and received the worst news ever. I had a completely torn MCL, torn meniscus, and a fractured bone. I had my surgery set and was told that my senior season was completely over. The hardest part of it all was turning in all your equipment so early in the season and watching you team win games and knowing you didn’t help at all.
TJK: How has your recovery process been? How much have you improved since surgery? What percentage are you at compared to being before the injury?
Izzy: I’m so thankful my recovery process went by way faster than expected. I was back on the field kicking about mid ways January. Two weeks after being cleared I made a 41 yard field goal and that’s when I knew I still had it. I believe I’m somewhere around 85% back and still working hard for that 110%
TJK: You attended two of Coach Jackson’s Team Jackson Kicking camps. What did you think about his camps, and how has he helped you in the recruiting process?
Izzy: Team Jackson Kicking Camps are the best! Coach Jackson is a very great guy and isn’t all about just running a business. He stayed by my side throughout my injury and checked on my progress very often. He does an outstanding job in running his camps! Every kicker always has fun and leaves home satisfied with all they learned at the camp. He also does a great job with the recruiting process. His YouTube videos are the best and hes completely honest with you and college coaches! What I like the most about his camps are the college kickers he has to help run the camps! A week after the BCS National Championship game he had Cody Mandell at his camp! You just cant find another coach like Coach Jackson!
TJK: Tell us about the Maryville Scots. How did they find out about you, and how did you know they were the one?
Izzy: One day while I was working out, my football coach pulled me out to inform me that Maryville had called and wanted to talk to me and schedule a visit for me. My visit went very well! I met the coaching staff, a few players and professors, as well as the president of the college. Everyone was very friendly and just made me feel very comfortable with everything. I felt a connection and knew I had found a new home.
TJK: What are you most excited about playing at the college level?
Izzy: I’m the most excited about getting back on the field! I’m also looking forward in receiving a great education while still getting to do what I love. I have the same dream as any other kicker, make it into the pros but you always have to be realistic and have a plan B. For now I’m only worrying about the upcoming semester as well as the season. I strive to be excellent on and off the field! All glory to God. I’m so thankful for all my coaches and friends who stayed by my side and helped me out throughout this crazy journey. I’m ready for new challenges and look forward to making my family, friends, and coaches proud.
TJK: Any other comments you would like to add.
Izzy: To any aspiring kicker, I’d like to encourage you to never give up. Anything is possible no matter what obstacles are thrown at you. Kicking is m0stly mental, even with an injury like mine. Have faith in God and be confident.
We would like to thank Izzy for taking the time to talk with us. He has been a great prospect and we wish the best for him at Maryville College.
For more information on TJK camps visit HERE.
Team Jackson Kicking