March 19, 2009

Shene has big plans for Rebels' spring

Joshua Shene made 17 of his 21 field goal attempts last season, knocked in all 52 extra-point kicks and was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist.

So this spring, Shene's last one as a collegiate player, will be nothing more than some work on refining his mechanics, right?

Well, not exactly. Instead, Ole Miss' All-SEC kicker has big plans for the Rebels' 15 spring practices, from breaking in a new holder to adding to his own resume.

"I'm not relaxed to the point of being lackadaisical but I am relaxed to the point where I don't let external influences bother me," Shene said during a break from his preparations for the start of spring practices on March 27. "I know if I don't perform I can be beaten out, but being relaxed is part of being effective for me. I try to tune everything out except what I have to do. The stuff going on around me does not seem to hinder me."

Ole Miss' holder the last couple of years, Rob Park, has graduated, meaning Shene and deep-snapper Preston Powers have work to do.

"Justin Sparks is working at holding now and so is Richie Contartesi," Shene said. "Justin is doing very well right now. I was extremely comfortable with Rob, but so far Justin has done well. I am anxious to see how he does in live work in spring, but I have confidence in him. It's a bigger adjustment than people think to get it right and holding is important. Justin has good hands. The difference right now is that Rob moved his hands away, except for on finger at the top of the ball, so all I could see was the ball. Justin's hands are more visible right now, but he's working on clearing that off hand away.

"With Preston, Rob and I, we were almost automatic between 1.25 seconds and 1.3 seconds. A good time is lower than 1.3, but you don't want to get too fast. You need to stay between 1.25 and 1.3, so we will be working on the timing of the kicks in spring real hard."

Shene also plans to work on kicking off this spring, believing that every extra dimension he can add to his game increases his chance of sticking on an NFL roster in 2010.

"(Ole Miss tight ends/special teams) Coach (James) Shibest wants to make sure I don't mess up my field goal kicking form, but I don't think I will," Shene said. "I just have to get my steps down for kicking off and I think it will work out."

Further, Shene is being asked to take a more vocal leadership role among the Rebels' specialists. Freshman punter Tyler Campbell will arrive this summer, as will freshman kicker Andrew Ritter.

"I'm not going to be too hard on them, but it will be my job to show them how to work and to show them our routine," Shene said. "Most kickers have never lifted weights before or worked real hard on their craft, but we work really hard to get it right here. I just want to show them how it's done and what is expected and help them with their confidence. Bryson Rose was a freshman last year and didn't know the ropes, but now he gets it and is working hard. I have met the two new kickers and I don't think that will be a problem, but they do have to learn."

Shene, known for his calm demeanor, admitted that it's almost overwhelming that his career is nearing a conclusion, simply awaiting what he hopes will be a victorious final chapter.

"I was talking to my dad the other day and we were discussing how it seemed like it was just the other day I was signing at Ole Miss and now it's almost over," Shene said. "I have one semester left after this one before I graduate and one more football season. Will Moseley was a senior when I got here and he told me how fast it would go by, but I didn't believe him. He was right. It has flown by. It's ridiculous, really."

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