JagNation's Charlie Bernstein talks with Jaguars punter/kicker, Tony Yelk, about his days in college, the NFL, and what keeps him motivated.
Charlie Bernstein: What do you like to do better, punt or kick?
Tony Yelk: I think from a physical standpoint I like punting better, but there's something great about watching a kick fly through the uprights. I don't have a preference, and I feel that I'm pretty good at both. There's not a lot of guys that do both. I'd rather be great at one than good at both.
CB: What did you major in when you were at Iowa State?
TY: I actually have my masters in education.
CB: How difficult was it to juggle the workload between academics and playing major Division 1-A sports?
TY: It's a serious challenge that tends to get lost in the shuffle (academics). On field exploits get more notoriety, but A's in the classroom are just as important. NCAA is doing a better job of tightening up academic requirements.
CB: What was the best kick you ever made in a game?
TY: 51-yarder against Texas. It was into a crosswind, didn't have much of an effect on the game, but that was the best kick I've ever made.
CB: What was the worst you've ever missed?
TY: Iowa State fans will tell you the game winner in the Independence Bowl, no one knows for sure whether or not it was good, the Independence Bowl had some shorter uprights and nobody really knows if it was inside the upright or over them.
CB: How does something like that affect your confidence, how do keep up a positive vibe?
TY: It's a challenge, that kick in a weird way was probably the best thing for me. The best guys in every league miss kicks, Vanderjagt was statistically the best in the league and now he's out of work. When it goes bad, it goes bad quickly. It happened as a freshman. I was 19 or 20 years old, I've never faced any controversy through high school or anything, and it came against a great storied program like Alabama, and we were a program on the upswing trying to gain respect. It could have been one of those benchmark games. I wasn't ready for the media or fan outcry, but I appreciate my teammates support. I was ready to jump ship, I didn't think I could make it at that level. But I thought at the end of the day do their opinions really matter? I turned the negativity into a positive, and I appreciate those detractors from the bottom of my heart, they helped make me more successful/stronger.
Subscribers can read more about Tony as our interview continues in the following premium article. Find out what Yelk thinks about the practice squad, his chances of making the Jacksonville roster, and much more.
CONTINUED IN PART TWO...
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. Feel free to contact Charlie HERE