January 10, 2008

Has Tech found Trlica's replacement?

If not for clutch kicker Alex Trlica, [tm]Texas Tech[/tm] would likely have at least three, if not more, losses to their credit over the last two seasons. Trlica, who is also the NCAA record holder for consecutive PAT's without a miss, delivered Tech from the throngs of defeat in El Paso last season, kicked the game-tying field goal in last year's historic Insight Bowl, and came through yet again in the clutch in this year's Gator Bowl, kicking the game winner.

Sadly, the Trlica era is over in Texas Tech football. Finding a replacement for everything he brought to the table certainly won't be easy, but that doesn't mean Tech's not trying.

One of the targets on Tech's radar screen is Beaumont Kelly star Donnie Carona. Carona stands at 6-foot, 215-pounds, and is not soley a place kicker.

"I'm not really just a kicker," he explained. "I like to think I'm an athlete who kicks."

And he is justified in his line of thinking- there just aren't many kickers who handled their high school team's kicking, punting, and kick-off duties, and then turned around an earned All-District honors at running back. But that's what Carona did over the last two seasons.

"I've started as the kicker and the punter since I was a freshman," he explained. "I also started at linebacker my freshman and sophomore years, but then they needed me at running back the last two years, so I've started there since I was a junior."

Needless to say, Carona has plenty of athletic ability, which helped him connect on 87% of his field goal attempts over the last two years.

"I was 4/5 this year and 7/8 last year," he answered when asked how many field goals he'd kicked during his two most recent seasons. "My longs were 47 and 48. My coaches think that my kick-offs are my biggest strength though, they go for about 75 yards or so a pop."

Carona, who also sports a 4.0 GPA, is keeping his options open on the recruiting trail.

"I have some D-II offers and then I've got offers from Air Force and Louisiana Tech," he explained. "I've been hearing a lot lately from Texas Tech, [tm]Rice[/tm], [tm]Baylor[/tm], and [tm]Ole Miss[/tm]. Baylor and Ole Miss are trying to get me to come on visits, but with their coaching shake-ups I think it's all still up in the air."

One visit that isn't up in the air is Carona's biggest in-state suitor, Texas Tech.

"I'll be taking an official to Tech on Friday," he explained on Wednesday night. "I'll be there until Sunday and then on next Friday I'll take one to Rice."

The Texas native explained that his interest in Tech has several facets.

"They're recruiting me to do field goals and compete for kick-off duties," he explained. "They have a freshman punter, Jonathan Lacour from Kingwood, so they won't need me to punt, but they want us to compete for kick-offs. Their kicker, Alex Trlica, is graduating, and he'll leave some big shoes to fill. I know he's a great kicker and he holds the record for most PAT's or something along those lines. I've always liked Tech and especially being a Texas boy and watching plenty of Big 12 football, I have really kept up with them a lot, so I kinda know what I'll be getting into when I head down there."

Stay tuned to RedRaiderSports for the latest in Carona's recruitment.

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