MINNEAPOLIS – Andrew Harte doesn’t plan on taking the traditional route of most college freshmen.
On campus at the University of Minnesota since June 10, the Downers Grove resident and former Montini football player plans to be on the field when the Gophers kick off their football season Aug. 29 against UNLV. If things go according to plan and Harte avoids sitting out the season with a redshirt, he could be the one doing the kicking in that game.
Jordan Wettstein handled Minnesota’s field goal duties last season, but he has graduated. Harte is one of three freshman competing for playing time as a kicker, and he intends to win that battle.
What sets you apart from the other kickers competing for playing time?
What can make me stand out is I can make the kick every time. If my range is 50 yards and someone else’s is 55 but I make it every time, I feel confident I’ll be the guy they turn to. As long as I make my kicks, I should be fine. My high school long was 54 yards with no wind. Right now, I’m hitting from 50 both ways on the field.
What have you been doing since you arrived on campus?
I’ve been lifting and doing conditioning every morning and afternoon, and kicking with all the snappers and holders every day. Camp starts Aug. 2, so I’m getting my feet wet now so I’m ready to go.
What changes have you noticed between high school and college football?
At Montini my freshman and sophomore years, I was coached, but by the time I was a junior and senior, and for sure my senior year, I was my own coach because they had trust and confidence in me to do things on my own.
Now I’m starting over again, and the coaches, like coach (Jay) Nunez, are as hands-on as they can be and spend time working with me.
Do you think playing at Montini and playing in big-time games will help you?
I think it definitely can. You don’t really know what a situation is like until you’re in it. At Montini, we had big crowds and we played in big games. Now you’ve got to do it in front of 50,000 people every week, but I think I can do it. At Montini, I was in some high-pressure situations, and I think that will prepare me for what I have to do at Minnesota.
What’s the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make so far in your college career?
It’s early – you have to wake up at 5 in the morning to get your running in, and then you’re lifting in the afternoon. It’ll be interesting to see what it’s like once camp starts. Right now, the coaches can’t be there for any football activities so they’re around when you’re running, conditioning and weight lifting. I’m definitely in the best shape of my life.