Lehigh football junior Ed Mish has mastered the art of kicking.
Typically college football teams have a player that specializes in flipping the field as a punter and another player, the kicker, who specifically takes the kickoffs, extra points and field goals. For the Mountain Hawks, Mish is responsible for all three kicking phases.
In high school, Mish was both a kicker and a punter. When he began the recruiting process, most schools only wanted him to punt. There were only a handful of schools that saw his versatile skill set. Mish said he chose Lehigh because he was fond of the coaching staff and “the guys on the team made (him) feel at home.”
As a freshman at Lehigh, Mish was only a placekicker for the team, but during the preseason of his sophomore year, Mish earned the punting position.
“I had competitions with the other two talented punters on my team all throughout camp and ultimately won enough of them to earn the starting spot,” Mish said.
Last year, Mish earned first team All-Patriot League honors as a punter and placekicker. He said being chosen by other Patriot League coaches to win these two awards proved his hard work in the offseason had paid off.
“I did not expect to get both awards,” Mish said. “It was a very humbling experience to be able to represent Lehigh and my team as an all-league performer.”
Mish attributes his production in all phases to his warmup routine. While listening to music, he attempts to get his heart rate up and his muscles loose before the game. He then allows time for a long stretch, before even touching a football. Once he is completely loose, he is ready to pick up a ball. Mish works on punting first, then kicking field goals as he tallies his misses and makes in his head. He concludes his warmups with kickoffs.
Mish said he thinks his kicking is more consistent than his punting. He attributes all his Lehigh football success to his special teams coaches — coach Ryan Dougherty during his freshman and sophomore years and now, coach Nate Przestrzelski.
While Przestrzelski has not yet spent a whole season with Mish, he said Mish has always shown great dedication to becoming a better punter and kicker.
“He holds himself to such a high standard, he’s very coachable,” Przestrzelski said. “He’s a tremendous teammate and leader on our football team.”
As a former punter and kicker himself, Przestrzelski said it is difficult to play in both positions at the collegiate level because punting and kicking are two different motions.
“It’s a credit to Ed that he can do both at a high level of consistency,” Przestrzelski said.
Senior quarterback Matt Timochenko is Mish’s placeholder. Timochenko said it is imperative that there is a good relationship between the placeholder and the kicker. Fortunately for the team, Timochenko and Mish have a great relationship.
“Ed is always the first person to tell me I’m doing a great job but also is the first to tell me when I need to fix something,” Timochenko said. “He’s always had the ability to constructively criticize me so that we’re able to put a great product on the field come game day.”