ATLANTA -- In his younger collegiate days, Scott Blair had voices in his head.
None were saying anything good.
It should be noted, the former Georgia Tech placekicker wasnt really losing his wits nor hearing actual arguments from spirits trapped in between his ears, but he had let others enter the reality of his mind nonetheless. Fans, bloggers and the seemingly omnipresent gatekeepers of the Internet media took up residence there and didnt seem set on moving out anytime soon.
It made for a disastrous mix.
I used to go on blogs a lot, Blair said. If I had a good game, I wanted to see what people had to say. And then, even if I had a bad game, I was in the habit of checking things that Id see what everybody had to say again.
I know it probably was the spoken minority saying most things, but ...
The seeds of negativity were there. And Blair knew that if he was going to cancel out the naysayers, hed have to make a conscious off-field change.
Thanks to a much needed, albeit brief, period of reflection and introspection halfway through his junior season, Blair was able to do just that. To hear him tell it, by spending two games away from action, a complete turnaround was sparked. Its one that led to his 4-for-4 field goal showing in the ACC championship at that seasons end and a 9-for-9 performance to start the following year.
He hopes such numbers help him get landed by an NFL franchise following next months draft.
With such statistics, one would have thought his mind long would have been on draft parties and the lavish life of a professional athlete. But that wasnt always the case.
I know theres great competition out there, Blair said. I guess just based on my first two years, I always thought I was just lagging behind everybody.
But this offseason, after he nailed his lone extra point attempt in Georgia Techs 14-7 Independence Bowl loss to Air Force, Blair has seen that he isnt as far back after all.
As he starts trying to woo pro franchises ahead of late Aprils draft and rookie/undrafted free agent signing period -- one that could be put on pause due to the NFLs current lockout -- Blair has turned to dads research to help his state his case.
Scotts father, Jeff, took his sons kicking numbers from all of the 2010 season and the latter half of the 2009 season and compared them to Scotts college peers.
He also compared certain statistics, namely long-range kicks, to the NFLs best kickers along the same time period.
The latter half of the 2009 season constitutes the last eight games of Scott Blairs junior year. After going 2-for-5 on field goals in games against Miami and North Carolina near the start of that season, Blair was benched by head coach Paul Johnson to clear his mind and rediscover his focus.
Like Coach Johnson said, I really was paralysis by analysis, Scott Blair said. I was psyching myself out about everything trying to be too mechanical.
That meant staring at the field goal posts a little too long when he took his steps back to set up the kick. It meant convincing himself psychologically that he was further from his mark than he actually was.
It meant he was inside his own head.
I needed to kind of step back and see things from a different perspective, Blair said. Since that break, Ive just been a different kicker than I was prior to that.
Jeff Blairs study shows hes right.
Using just the aforementioned time period, Jeff Blair found that Scott made 85.2 percent of his field goals. That ranks fifth in the FBS, and second among ACC kickers. Virginia Techs Chris Hazley had a 95.5 percentage. Also, Scotts 13 field goals from between 40-49 yards was the most converted by the kickers grouped in the study.
After I saw that, it was a reality check, Scott Blair said, a good one to see where I ranked among other kickers that are considered among the nations elite.
He stacks up with the NFL quite favorably, too.
Only five professional place-kickers had more attempts from beyond 40 yards during the period used for research. Scott Blairs 81.3 percent success rate from that distance was dwarfed only by Tennessees Rob Bironas (90.9), New Orleans Garrett Hartley (88.9), Indianapolis Adam Vinatieri (90.0), Atlantas Matt Bryant (81.8) and Minnesotas Ryan Longwell (100.0). In fairness, Longwell had just two attempts.
This is just to increase any chance that I have, Scott Blair said of his dads research. As far as the draft, Im not looking at the draft at all. Realistically what Im looking at is getting invited to camp and maybe prove that I can kick pretty well there. Not necessarily take over the job, but by word of mouth getting my foot in the door. I expect it to be a long road, but well see how it goes.