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Vikings Nab 1st Kicker of 2024 Draft: NCAA's All-Time Scoring Leader Will Reichard from Alabama

2024 Draft Selection 2560x1440_Reichard

EAGAN, Minn. — Will Reichard has been kicking since the age of 2.

Well, kind of.

Reichard first started playing soccer at just 2 years old, and he quickly fell in love with the sport. But when his father felt he might need a little toughening up on the soccer field around 8 or 9, Reichard signed up for the football team.

The rest, as they say, is history.

"When it came time for kicking trials, I was just, I mean, I was the only soccer player on the team, so I won the job," Reichard laughed while talking to Twin Cities media members virtually Saturday afternoon. "[But I] found out I really loved it, and I just kind of stuck with it and have been training ever since.

"It's been a super-lifelong dream to play in the NFL," he added.

That dream came true when Minnesota drafted Reichart (pronounced RYKE-urd) 203rd overall, making him the first kicker off the board this year.

"I always knew God had a plan for me, and this is something that I've been working toward for a really long time," he said. "So I'm super thankful, super grateful to the Vikings organization for picking me in the sixth round. Just a great moment."

Reichard, listed at 6-foot-1 and 187 pounds, actually had the opportunity to declare for the NFL Draft last spring but opted to stay at Alabama for another year.

When asked about that decision, he emphasized developing as much as possible and specifically noted wanting to improve his kickoffs and field goals from beyond 50 yards.

His extra work paid off.

Last season, he made 22 of 25 (88 percent) field goals attempted, including a 5-for-5 showing from 50-plus yards and a long of 52. On 87 kickoffs, 52 resulted in touchbacks. He was perfect on 55 extra point attempts.

Reichard was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Year and earned Third-Team Associated Press All-America honors.

"I think Will separates himself with his consistency mechanically, his consistent personality, his ability to show he improved his kickoffs," Vikings college scout Steve Sabo said. "Everything he did across the board through his career, he separated himself, in our opinion, from the other kickers."

Reichard set an NCAA record with 547 career points scored. He set a new Alabama record with 84 field goals made, including 10 from 50-plus yards, and 295 career extra points.

Sabo and Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels both pointed out the high-pressure situations Reichard regularly found himself in under former Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban, whether in big-time SEC matchups or College Football Playoff games.

"He's a guy that you can count on in the biggest moments," Daniels said, later highlighting the Rose Bowl semifinal game between Alabama and Michigan.

"He had a 50-yarder and a 52-yarder, and those are probably two of the biggest kicks, really, in the entire playoff series," Daniels said. "He went through this process, and what I love most about it is his consistent ball striking – that's probably the biggest thing that I appreciate within his game. Never does he have any missed hits or hits the ground. Balls always have good trajectories, and he's never had a field goal blocked, or a PAT. And so that says a lot about his operation."

Reichard prides himself on that process and consistency, something the Alabama native has focused on since attending Hoover High School, where he was ranked by ESPN as the nation's best kicker following his senior season.

He's also always strived to be a locker room leader and supportive teammate.

Beyond his on-field success, it was clear throughout the scouting and pre-draft process how well-loved and respected Reichard was in Alabama.

"We had a couple Alabama players come through on [Top] 30 visits, so every time one came through, I'd make sure to peel off and say, 'Hey man, what do you think about Will?' " Sabo explained. "I felt he was a part of that team. He's not an isolated player, like in some programs, [the specialists may be] isolated, maybe distant and not necessarily connected to the team. I never got that from the sources I talked with at Alabama, the sources our other scouts talk to at Alabama and then obviously Coach Daniels through his processes, too."

View photos of Alabama kicker Will Reichard who was selected No. 203 overall in the sixth round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Reichard will have the opportunity to reconnect with two of those teammates in Minnesota, both of whom were drafted by the Vikings this weekend: OLB Dallas Turner (17th overall), who played three seasons at Alabama, and CB Khyree Jackson (108th overall), who played for the Tide in 2021-22 before transferring to Oregon in 2023.

"Dallas and I obviously played together for a long time, [so this is] awesome. He's a great player. I love him to death," Reichard said. "And then Khyree, actually, it's kind of funny. We were really good friends at Alabama and we saw each other again at the Senior Bowl … Now we're going to be teammates again, and it's awesome."