Albarado getting his kicks at Southern Cal

By By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

High school punters don’t often get a lot of attention.

When they pick their college of choice few seem to notice. Even fewer football fans really care.

But when Kris Albarado made his selection more than a few eyebrows were raised.

After perfecting his craft at St. Louis Catholic, Albarado was a wanted man by college coaches throughout the nation. However,

not all offers were the same.

Most figured he would go to LSU, but a trip to the West Coast sold him on his new football home.

Albarado bypassed not only LSU but most of the Southeastern Conference and chose Southern Cal.

“When I went on my trip, I just fell in love with the school, the city and especially the coaches,” Albarado said.

He especially liked his position coach, Joe Baker.

“He really sold me on the program,” said Albarado. “It really became an easy choice. It is USC after all.”

Still, he heard it from his friends at first, who teased him about the move west. But not anymore.

After spending his first year as a red shirt, and his second as a backup, Albarado won the punting job this spring. He still

has three years left, proving everything is working out as planned.

“I am excited to get the opportunity to play and get back on the field,” Albarado said. “I have had to wait my turn and learn,

but I have worked hard and believe I’ve gotten better. I am ready for this year.”

The 24th-ranked Trojans begin play Thursday night in Hawaii. It is a far cry from home and also from the No. 1 ranking USC

started last year with.

“I think we are ready for a big season,” Albarado said.

No matter what, he is ready to do his part. While it has been three years since he played, he did average 45 yards a punt

his senior season at St. Louis, earning all-state honors. He said he hasn’t missed a beat.

“I am ready to get back at it in games,” Albarado said. “You can only do so much in practice. There is nothing like playing

in big games.”

It was the thrill of playing in big games that got him to leave the small-town comforts of home and Lake Charles for the bright

lights of Los Angeles.

“It was a big culture shock at first,” he admitted. “But the first year I got to see a lot of the city and some great places.

I got to see and do even more the next year.

“It is a great place. I really like going to school out here. I don’t regret any of it, not for a minute. It has worked out

for me.”

And his family plans on showing up to cheer him.

“I think there will be somebody from the family at every home game this year,” Albarado said. “That is a great feeling to

know you are going to get that kind of support.

Albarado said he hopes that he can continue his punting career after college, but knows the odds of making it into the NFL

are long and isn’t counting on it.

“It would be a dream come true and I would love to get the chance to keep playing after college,” he said. “But you can’t

count on that. I’m still going to class, doing my work so that I’m ready if it doesn’t happen.”

And if it doesn’t happen, a return to Lake Charles is likely.

“I think I will probably go back home,” he said.

As for what he misses most, it is simple.

“The food,” he proclaimed.

That’s a small price to pay to live out your dream.