For this installment of our Rutgers commit analysis feature, we reached out to former Rutgers specialist Lee McDonald, now a highly-respected kicking coach, and director/founder of Special Teams Solutions. (McDonald’s comments in italics)
Projected collegiate position
In reviewing Smolar’s senior year highlights, McDonald assessed his technique, leg strength, poise and potential for success at the major college level. And he believes Smolar has a lots of ability and will provide immediate competition at kicker and punter.
Strengths/Areas for improvement
From a field goal perspective, Smolar shows above average range beyond 50 yards with good height on the ball. His fast leg and athleticism allows him to hit a clean, consistent field goal. However, as Smolar transitions to kicking placements off the ground in college, adjustments will be needed to transfer his core up and through the ball.
Smolar tends to kick and stick his plant foot hard at impact, dipping his right shoulder and crunching his torso. He swings hard across his body instead of keeping his leg locked and toe pointed toward the goal posts. These adjustments and other tweaks will improve his distance, height and accuracy on field goals and extra points.
On kickoffs, Smolar shows the ideal walk, jog, burst approach. Again, a fast leg and quick swing generates the power needed to get very good distance and hang time. Staying tall through the ball at impact and swinging more down his target line will improve transfer and therefore distance and hang time.
As a punter, Smolar’s skills appear to be slightly ahead of his kicking. He shows consistent form with compact steps and a smooth swing. He stays tall and tends to avoid crunching at impact which allows his body to explode up through the ball for great hang time and distance. To improve his ball contact and consistency, he will need to keep his guide hand on the ball a bit longer and lower his drop a hair among other small adjustments.
One advantage Smolar has is experience playing in the harsh weather conditions of the mid-west, something that will serve him well in the Big Ten. And on tape he appears to perform his best when the lights are on, showing much poise and an air of calm and confidence under pressure.
Given the current lack of depth at kicker and punter, Smolar will have an early opportunity to push for playing time but at the very least be a serviceable back up in 2016. With a year or two of experience, Smolar should develop into a solid scholarship level performer for the Scarlet Knights.