PROVO — It would be a shame if too few BYU fans remember what kicker Justin Sorensen is capable of. His inconsistent efforts last season were a far cry from the promise he held coming out of high school before a freak injury he suffered while lifting weights.
Soon after returning home from his mission in January of 2011, Sorensen was maxing out on cleans and tweaked his back — a cruel irony for the linebacker-like 6-foot-1, 237 pound athlete. Indeed Sorensen begrudgingly gave up playing linebacker and physical play in high school to concentrate on just field goal kicking before his sophomore year at Bingham.
"I think having a good kicker is a crucial part of any good football team," said Bingham coach Dave Peck. "It's important enough that I often take an athlete like Justin and tell him that we just want him to kick and to concentrate on kicking even though he could help us on defense and on special teams."
Sorensen finished his career at Bingham as the best kicker the state has ever produced as a result. He holds the state record for longest field goal (62 yards) and accumulated 81 touchbacks on his 88 kickoffs during his senior year.
His production earned him a Parade All-American honors, consensus first-team All-State selections and a spot on the prestigious Army All-America team. It was the type of production that left BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall giddy at his immediate prospects on signing day in 2008.
Since that time Sorensen hasn't been able to realize his hype because of his back, which has severely limited not only his consistency, but his uncommon distance on kickoffs.
The kicker who used to boot kickoffs over a fence 10 yards behind the back of the endzone at Bingham only accounted for 17 touchbacks on 67 kickoffs in 2011. He also connected on just 60 percent of his field goal attempts — missing on all three of his attempts outside of 50 yards.
"It's been incredibly frustrating because I know I can do so much better," said Sorensen. "I'm just the guy who if something bad is going to happen, it happens to me. It's been a battle coming back and trying to regain my form, but hopefully I'll get there."
Sorensen has yet to attempt a kick during fall practices this year with Mendenhall unsure about his overall contribution this coming year. The ever optimistic Sorensen is hopeful that he'll return to form and feels he can currently do whatever the team asks.
"I can kick it as far as (coach's) want me to," said Sorensen. "I really believe that when the season starts that I'll be able to kick the ball out of the endzone, kick 50 and even 60-yard field goals — whatever they need me to do I'll be able to do."
In order to get there, trainers are monitoring his workload closely.
Sorensen has been kicking on a set schedule that limits his reps while receiving treatment in between attempts. He admits to not being 100 percent, but believes he'll be ready to go come the season-opener against Washington State. Although the goal is to perform kicking duties from any distance in any situation, Sorensen believes he'll be doing just two types of kicks in 2012.
"With our offense being what it is, I'll just be kicking extra points and kicking off," said Sorensen. "Our offense is going to be dominant — I mean, I can do whatever they want, but I really think I'll pretty much be limited to kickoff off and to extra points because no one is going to stop our offense."
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