B.T. Potter is much more comfortable than he was a year ago as a wide-eyed true freshman going through his first fall camp with Clemson.
The big-legged kicker will never forget when he missed his very first field-goal attempt in camp last year, with all his new teammates looking on. In fact, that moment serves as motivation for him now.
“It was tough at first,” Potter recalled. “I remember last year I came out here, first fall camp, and missed my first kick. I was like, ‘Dang, this is tough.’”
Fast forward to the present and Potter is far more confident in his craft, having wrapped up his second fall camp with a full year of experience under his belt from a season ago.
A highly touted prospect coming out of South Pointe (Rock Hill, S.C.) High School, Potter believes he has made major strides from both a mental and physical standpoint, even from where he was in spring practice.
“I feel like in the spring, I was definitely not where I wanted to be at, and it was pretty obvious,” he said. “But this summer, I thought about it a lot. I worked a lot on my mental game, the process and all that, and that’s just really helped me out.”
Potter served as the Tigers’ kickoff specialist in 2018, producing 79 touchbacks on 114 kickoffs while also going 1-of-1 on field-goal attempts and 7-on-7 on PATs.
With Greg Huegel no longer on the team after graduating, Potter is expected to assume the starting kicker role for Clemson in 2019. He has been competing with redshirt senior Steven Sawicki in camp.
“I would say this year I’ve just been a lot more locked in during the kick,” Potter said. “Last year, it was more of a kickoff kind of thing. But this year, it’s like more of a mind game for me. Just being able to lock in and know my process, it’s just been a lot for me.”
Potter has sort of started over in his approaching to kicking, something that is helping him more easily recognize what he is doing right and what he is doing wrong.
“We started my process over, just started from the basics, which is something I felt like I needed to go back to,” he said. “Just knowing what I’m doing every single time and focusing on those keys whenever I go to kick.”
For example, Potter has started to aim for the right-third of the uprights when kicking field goals, knowing his ball usually has a little bit of natural slice to the left.
“I would say there’s more of things I look for in my process, like my form,” he said, “and now that I know those so well, I know exactly what I did wrong.”
Meanwhile, Potter has benefited from a full year of working with Clemson’s strength staff, including senior assistant football strength & conditioning coach Adam Smotherman. He arrived on campus last summer with an already strong leg and is in an even better spot physically now.
“Coach Smo, he works with us, and he does a lot of workouts that are specific for kickers,” he said. “Sust some of those workouts have changed the game.”
Potter has come a long way in one year. Heading into his sophomore season with the top-ranked Tigers, he feels he is a different kicker than the one that missed his first kick in full camp as a freshman.
“I’d say just getting out here and doing it in front of the team every day, that’s been big,” he said. “Really, I feel like a lot of people believe in me now, and that’s just helped me out.”
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