Steve Ragsdale retired after the 2007 season, after 30 seasons as head coach of Giles High School’s varsity football team. Coach Ragsdale, who compiled 254 wins in those 30 seasons, says he has never had a place-kicker as talented as 6-0, 175-pound junior Cody Journell , an AP first-team all-state selection this past season.
“We’ve had some fairly decent kickers over the years, but we’ve never had anybody who can kick like he does,” Ragsdale said of Journell. “One thing that stands out with me is his mental approach. I think he is an exceptional clutch kicker. He has got that mentality to come through in the clutch. And he is athletic. He is a football player who kicks. He started as a sophomore on defense. This year, he started on defense (at defensive back) and played half the time on offense. He is a good tackler. He is a strong kid with a strong leg. He has good leg speed. The ball really comes off his foot. One of the biggest assets for us this past season was his ability to put a high percentage of kick-offs in the end zone. He put a lot of them through the end zone. He was also very consistent on extra points.
“Cody is just a good kicker all the way around.”
Journell’s mental toughness and leg strength were evident in last season’s 46-43 win over Blacksburg. In the game, which lasted six overtimes, the talented junior booted a 54-yard field goal to tie the game with just minutes remaining in regulation. And, in the fourth overtime, he hit a 42-yarder to once again extend the game.
“When I got the big opportunity to tie the game in the Blacksburg game, I was more excited than anything,” recalled Journell, who made 10 field goals on the year in helping Giles to a 10-2 record. “I didn’t want to think about what would happen if I missed. I wanted to prove I could make it.”
Journell got into kicking at a young age, and he has been helped along in his development by professional kicking coach Doug Blevins, who has worked with NFL star Adam Vinatieri, among others. Blevins is very high on the Giles star’s abilities and a number of Division 1A programs have expressed interest, but no offers have been extended to this point.
“Maryland called last week and I went up there for their Spring Game this past weekend,” Journell said. “I’ve been in contact with Virginia Tech’s coaches. I went to...
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