Senior Jose-Pablo Buerba never attended, or even watched, a game of football his entire life. The all-State soccer star from Arizona packed a rocket leg, so powerful that opposing players used to step back when he wound up, preferring his shot find the back of the net rather than their chests.

Except now, it’s the opposite. Much heavier, padded opponents would prefer Buerba’s kicks to hit their chest pads rather than the net behind the uprights at Multi-Sport Facility. Buerba is in his second year and first full season as the Georgetown football team’s kicker.

“When I came to Georgetown my freshman year, I had the hopes and dreams of playing soccer,” he said. “But things didn’t really work out.”

Buerba was not recruited to play soccer at Georgetown. He was the leading scorer for his high school soccer team despite being a central defender during his tenure at Brophy College Prep in Phoenix.

“I didn’t have the moves that the forwards had,” he said. “But I discovered that I could shoot and kick really hard.”

His super leg didn’t go unnoticed. Other schools recruited him, but Georgetown offered him an excellent academic opportunity. After speaking with his family, Buerba decided that academics were more of a priority than athletics and a Georgetown degree offered this allure. Still, he yearned to incorporate soccer into his life and attempted to walk on to the soccer team his freshman year.

“[The soccer team] didn’t really pay attention to walk-ons,” Buerba said. “They said they had a full roster this season, but maybe I could come back in the spring . that happened for two years. I played soccer my whole life and I needed to do something.”

So, by the spring of 2008, his sophomore year, Buerba was limited to playing games with his brother. One day, playing a field-goal challenge, Buerba started launching kicks that sailed over 60 yards.

“My brother said to me, `You should try out for the football team,'” Buerba recalls. “I said, `Sure, it can’t be that hard.'”

Buerba started a letter writing campaign, sending e-mails to 11 coaches to see if they’d be interested in having a tryout for a kicker. As it turned out, the Hoyas were interested and were the only team that gave him his shot.

“I went, I tried out,” he said. “I’m pretty sure the coaches weren’t impressed at all, but they believed they could craft me into something.”

Buerba isn’t quite a final product yet.

“The whole reason I watch football games now is to watch the kickers – where they stand, their

technique,” the 6-foot kicker said. “If you watch me, there is no technique in my kicks. I just stand where it looks right and . hope for the best.”

Buerba succeeded in making the team at the start of the 2008 season, but he didn’t start immediately, due to the fact that he had never actually kicked a football before. He spent most of the season by himself in the corner of Multi-Sport Facility, just kicking and kicking and kicking.

“The fall of 2008, I wasn’t getting the technique right,” he said. “But it was mostly trial and error. I kept working on it and eventually I won the starting kickoff job.”

At long last, Buerba was given the opportunity to get points for his kicks, making all three of his kicks from field-goal range. His success resulted in being the only kicker that the Hoyas are carrying on their roster for the 2009 season. Through five games this season, Buerba is 5-for-7 on field goal attempts and is perfect on PAT kicks, with 17 points overall, which accounts for almost half of the of the Hoyas total points scored this season. His longest field goal for the season is 41 yards.

“There’s more action involved for me [in football],” he said. “There’s a mental difference [compared to soccer]. It’s really hard to stay focused when 11 guys of 200-plus pounds are rushing at you, trying to stop you from kicking the ball. Then there’s the snap, the hold, the distance – you have to keep all of these things in mind.”

As he enters the second half of the Georgetown football season, Buerba’s mind is on turning the year around. The Georgetown offense has been lacking through the first five games; Buerba’s two field goals against Bucknell this past Saturday were the Blue and Gray’s only points.

“We just haven’t clicked on offense yet,” Buerba said. “We have the talent and we’ve showed glimpses of it, especially in the last drives against Holy Cross and Lafayette. The defense has been really solid and once we click on offense, we’ll turn things around.”

As for the Hoya kicker, his job won’t get any easier if and when the Hoya offense starts bringing their

talent together. Until then, he plans on enjoying the rest of the season.

“I never, ever, ever imagined that I’d be doing this when I was going into college,” he said. “I started [kicking] for fun, but I realized that I’m good at it.

“I’m better at soccer than I am at football, but I’d like to prolong my athletic career, either in football or soccer. I’ll attempt [to] at least.”

Attempt is all that he has done for the last four years, and it has all come together for Buerba over the last two football seasons. It’s a pretty good finish for the former soccer star who once said: “Football’s not really my thing.”

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