April 5, 2020

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Diamond In The Rough: Joseph Manero

People often overlook the kicker on a football team until they are needed. However, kickers are required to do their job with near perfection day in and day out. Joseph Manero is a kicker from Strake Jesuit in Houston, Texas who fits the bill of an elite kicker. In a position full of pressure, Manero takes it all in stride and continues to do more than what is asked of him. He has an extremely powerful leg, which sends the ball out of the back of the end zone on nearly every kickoff. His power is almost as amazing as his accuracy, nailing all but three extra points asked of him, and never missing a field goal. While he has a powerful leg, he can also place balls wherever he is needed. Which is shown through his perfect placement of onside kicks and pooch kicks, which give opposing teams an extra problem to worry about. 

What made you decide you wanted to start playing football and when did you start playing?

I’ve been around it my whole life. Everyone in my family has always been a big fan. I spent a lot of time watching UT games on Saturdays. I didn’t get too serious about it until I started high school. But I’ve always loved the game.

How do you think football has helped you grow as a person?

You’ve got to put a lot of trust in your teammate in football. That’s really shown me that you have to trust the people around you. It has made me realize that I have to focus on what I need to get done, I have to pull my weight and trust that everyone else will too. 

You play one of those positons that is often overlooked until you do something wrong. That has to add a little bit of pressure. How do you deal with the pressure that comes with being a kicker?

It’s a lot of practice when it gets down to it. Obviously, I am not even close to being the biggest guy on the field, but I always like to think I could outwork anyone out there. If you kick 1000 balls a day, you have confidence that you will drill it when the time comes. After all, you’ve hit it a thousand times before. I have a job to do, I do my job. It doesn’t matter if I get a lot of attention when I do it. I know I am doing everything I can to help the team win, and that’s what’s important to me. 

Who, in either the NFL or college, would you say you model your game after?

Definitely Justin Tucker. The former UT kicker who is now with the Ravens. The greatest kicker of all time if you ask me. He is so well known because he is so consistent. I think the most important thing to look at with him is, he misses a kick every now and then, but the way he reacts after a miss is what makes him great. He doesn’t beat himself up about it. He takes a step back and figures out what he did, and what he can do to never make that mistake again. 

What sets you apart from some of the other kickers out there?

I play rugby too. I think that makes me one of the hardest hitting kickers you’ll ever see. I have never been scored on after a kickoff. I like to think I am an extremely hard worker. I think that is one other thing that really sets me apart. No one will outwork me. 

Who do you think has been the biggest influence on your life?

My grandfather. He immigrated here from Cuba. The mentality he gave me of having a good work ethic and to keep your head down and work hard to always be improving yourself. 

How do you think your coaches and teammates would describe you as a player?

I think they would say I am a hard worker, but also someone with a sense of humor who doesn’t always take himself super serious. But someone who knows it is time to get serious and will take care of business when the time comes.

What goals have you set for yourself for this upcoming season?

I think my biggest goal would be to not miss any extra points. And hit two or three field goals beyond 40 yards. I never got the opportunity last season, but I know if that chance came I could knock it through. 

Being a multi-sport athlete can make it tough to take care of school too. How do you find a balance in your life between academics and athletics?

I hate to hit the cliché, but we really are student athletes. The student part comes first. School is always a priority. Obviously, trying to balance these two things is extremely difficult, but it teaches you time management, which is something that you will be able to use well after you get out of high school. It is about being focused. You cannot get distracted by everything around you. You just have to get your job done.