HAMILTON — Eric Wilbur walks the end zone dropping a football on the ground. Thump.
Catches the rebound.
Drops the football. Thump. Catches the bounce.
Again. Again. And again. As the rest of the Ticats practise at the other end of Ivor Wynne Stadium, Wilbur is practising the lonely science of the kicker.
“No,” he says when asked if people understand his job. “People who have never done it don’t really get it.”
It’s physical but it’s also mathematics and meteorology. “I equate kicking and punting to golf. People can watch golf and be like, ‘oh, the professionals make it look so easy.’ But when you go and try it’s not easy at all. There’s so much technique involved.”
At Ivor Wynne the winds are tricky. “The flags blow one way and you feel the wind going the other,” he says. “I started going throught the physics of kicking in high school and started to understand the mechanics; how the ball rolls off your foot, where the nose needs to be ...”
That repetitive drop and catch isn’t just putting in time. He’s working. “It helps me simulate a snap instead of just spinning it in my hand. It forces me to actually catch the ball and to actually have to move it around,” says Wilbur, once the No. 1 high school kicker in Florida and a Gators’ alumnus.
Facing Chad Owens this weekend presents its own challenges. “The kicking game is huge this weekend especially with a great return guy like Chad (Owens). It definitely changes what you do as a kicking team.”