Zach Hocker's yet to kick a field goal or line up for a kickoff in an NFL game, but it didn't take long for the Arkansas product to absorb the fact that he had reached the highest level as a professional football player.
"I was sitting around with some of the guys today at practice, looking around at each other like, 'Man,* this* is the NFL,'" Hocker said after Saturday's morning Redskins rookie minicamp practice. "You know, you go from junior high, then high school, four years of college, and finally you're getting to the point that you reached so hard for."
With the No. 228 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins selected Zach Hocker of Arkansas. Here's a gallery of his collegiate career.
The Redskins took Hocker in the seventh round (228th-overall selection) of the 2014 NFL Draft on May 10, and head coach Jay Gruden raved about Hocker's production as a Razorback.
At Arkansas, the soccer-style kicker posted all-time school bests for points by a kicker (354), field goal percentage (77.2), PATs made (171), PATs attempted (173) and field goals (61).
After watching Hocker in rookie minicamp practices, Gruden said he was "everything we expected."
"He's a very good kicker – very good college kicker," Gruden said. "The rookie kickers in the NFL, not many of them have had a lot of success, but we have high hopes for him."
Hocker's was brought in to compete with Redskins incumbent kicker Kai Forbath, whom Gruden said has been consistent with his field goals, but wants to see better production on kickoffs.
"We have a good field-goal kicker here [in Forbath], but the ability [Hocker] has with that strong leg is an added dimension for kick-offs, and touchbacks are very, very important," Gruden said. "We're going to have competition, like I said, at every position and kicker is no different, so we will see how things go and how things transpire in the preseason, how [Hocker] handles the pressure, and only time will tell in that regard."
But before that competition really gets underway, Hocker said he's taking the time now to appreciate the opportunity he's been given.
He said he intentionally got away from the TV during the later rounds of the draft, but rejoiced with family and friends when he got that call from the Redskins.
"It was crazy – kickers usually don't get drafted," said Hocker, who was the first kicker taken in the 2014 NFL Draft. "Fortunately enough I got a call from you guys, and from there it's been a big celebration. I've just been looking forward to this day."