“Soccer’s my first love and I think it will always be my first love, but football gave me more opportunity. I’m growing to love (football) now too.” SCOTT BRAUCHLE, UL-Lafayette kicker
LAFAYETTE — Their best performances in competitive sports may not have always been on the football field, but an ex-high school catcher and a former soccer defender are the new faces in the Louisiana-Lafayette kicking game.
Walk-on Jake Guidry, a former Carencro High School all-state catcher and lineman, is now the Cajuns’ holder for junior college transfer Stephen Brauchle, a kicker who still professes his ardent passion for soccer.
Guidry and Brauchle replace former kicker Brett Baer and holder Brady Thomas, who formed a near-flawless tandem the past two seasons.
Baer holds the school record for consecutive field goals (18) and Thomas, a former backup quarterback, was never known to mishandle a snap.
Now it’s up to Brauchle, who’s never kicked in a Division I college game and Guidry, who has never been a holder on kicks in his career.
Guidry started all four years in football at Carencro while also serving as the Bears’ deep snapper.
Guidry, a sophomore who has never seen action in any college football game, said seeking the holder’s job was a way to get playing time.
“This spring (Louisiana-Lafayette) really needed a holder,” he said. “I watched the coaches trying the backup quarterbacks as holders, and I was seeing them come and go. I said to (coach Mark Hudspeth) that I could do better than them.”
Brauchle, who signed with the Cajuns after committing to Florida International after his freshman season at Mississippi Gulf Coast College, said the chemistry of working with Guidry wasn’t that smooth initially.
“At first we were kind of struggling,” he said. “In the spring, we were really missing a lot of kicks. Like right now, we’re really clicking on all cylinders, almost. I feel like (Guidry) has really been helped since he is a deep snapper, and he’s around the specialist guys all day.
“That’s almost better than if you had a quarterback doing (placements), since a quarterback is out there taking reps.”
Brauchle, a Gulfport, Miss., native, said he saw his divided attention between soccer and football was causing some problems during his senior season at Gulfport High School.
“I would kick in a game on Friday night, then Saturday morning I would load up, get in a car and drive to Memphis to play club soccer. That was kind of tough,” he said.
When the thought of the getting a college scholarship became apparent, Brauchle said football became his adopted sport.
Brauchle said he realized that when his cousin, Shawn Brauchle, who also played soccer at Gulfport High, kicked in junior college and signed a football scholarship at Mississippi State.
While Shawn Brauchle was at Mississippi State, Hudspeth was at the school as the receivers coach along with current ULL recruiting coordinator Reed Stringer, Brauchle said.
“I let (Stringer and Hudspeth) know I was at Mississippi Gulf Coast, but they weren’t the first ones to pull the trigger on me.
“I was committed to Florida International for about a month, and then they fired their head coach (Mario Cristobal),” he said.
Brauchle said part of his accuracy problem this spring was caused by the sudden impact of the ULL conditioning program.
“Coach (Rusty) Whitt had us doing everything the linebackers do with the weights. In junior college, the lifting program wasn’t so much a big deal as it is here,” he said.
“The kickers are working everything, upper body, core, doing everything in the weight room there is to do. There’s no slowing down. My body changed so quickly, I was starting to get underneath kicks and scooping the ball a little bit,” Brauchle said.
Still, while his focus is now football, Brauchle said he still fondly recalls the days when he was a defender on the soccer field.
“Soccer’s my first love, and I think it will always be my first love, but football gave me more opportunity. I’m growing to love (football) now too,” Brauchle said.