Fate leads Carmona to kicking behind the best

August 30, 2012, 4:34 pm
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SEATTLE -- You think Eddy Carmona is fazed at all by the unlikelihood of him beating out Sebastian Janikowski as the Raiders' placekicker?Carmona himself acknowledges he should not be here. But not because of any real, or imagined, lack of talent in his kicking foot. Rather, his entire involvement with the national obsession of football came by accident.Having come to Charleston, Ark., from Monterrey, Mexico with his parents at 12 years old, Carmona did not speak any English. Neither did his parents.So when they all heard and saw that "football" signups were going down, the Carmona family quickly signed up young Eddy. One problem, though."My parents thought it was soccer," Carmona said with a laugh this week. "I went out there and I was on the field and I was like, this is not a soccer field. The other players were like, 'No, it's football.'"The language barrier had struck and Carmona quickly quit. He knew nothing about futbol Americano, after all. His game was futbol.But later, he said, his eighth-grade English tutor took Carmona and his sister outside to practice the language. The lesson of the day happened to involve a football. They got to kicking the pigskin around and Carmona was pretty good at it.As luck would have it, his junior high had a team."By that time, the football coach was coming out to practice and they watched me kick and asked, 'Do you want to be our kicker?'" Carmona recalled."I said, 'Sure, talk to my parents, though.'" They said, 'As long as he don't get hit.'"Carmona laughed again."That's how it started," he said. "When I went into the games, they just told me, 'Just kick the ball hard and straight.' I didn't know what to do. Kickoffs? Just kick it hard. Extra point and field goals? Just kick it through the uprights."He turned into a two-time all-state kicker for Arkansas and played collegiately at Central Arkansas and Harding. Carmona successfully converted 171 of 181 point-after attempts (94.5 percent) and 48 of 67 field-goal attempts (71.6 percent) in college, numbers that pale in comparison to the career NFL figures of 99.2 percent and 79.6 percent put up Janikowski in PATs and FGAs, respectively.Still, Carmona did drill a 62-yard field goal at Harding, just under the NFL record-tying 63-yarder Janikowski booted last year at Denver,And Carmona's 56-yarder to end the first half of the Detroit exhibition was pretty, nicer even than his Janikowski-esque second-half kickoff that flew out of the back of the end zone. And definitely better than the four that bounded off the left upright in Napa during training camp.Realistically, though, what does Carmona hope to accomplish as the Raiders close out their exhibition season Thursday night in Seattle, and with Janikowski already on the roster?"Just do my thing, that's about it," Carmona said. "First of all, I'm blessed to be here and learn from someone who's one of the best kickers ever. Just show them what I can do and whatever happens, I mean, happens."