Colton Boomer: Things I Know

by John Heisler

Not so long ago, Colton Boomer was your typical beach-blond Florida kid who loved to hang out, play soccer and then skateboard and surf in his free time. For a long time, he had no idea he might become a college football player. Yet he took over the top placekicking role three games into his freshman season at UCF in 2022 and promptly connected on 14 of his 15 field-goal attempts that year. He hit four field goals versus Georgia Tech a season back and did the same in September at Boise State—including the walk-off game-winner from 40 yards as time expired. He’s coming off another strong effort last weekend at Oklahoma—successful from 21, 48 and 46 yards. He hasn’t missed an extra point since the second one he attempted in the first game he played as a freshman. Boomer manages to keep it all in perspective as he combines his commitments to faith, family and football. Here is his story:

I started playing soccer at the age of 5. I was really blessed because my parents let me try just about every sport when I was young—including hockey. But I can barely walk and chew gum. I played in the rec soccer leagues for a few years and then I worked my way up through the Orlando City club system. I played football my freshman year at Lake Mary and then soccer in the winter. My junior year we lost in the state semifinals in soccer. That was tough, but it was fun.

My freshman year, I woke up one summer morning with my older brother Chase and the freshman football coach standing at the end of my bed, telling me they needed a kicker. I had long hair so I may not quite have looked the part in the locker room, but I stuck with it. And lo and behold I’m here. 

I don’t think I really had any idea what I was doing in the beginning. I still don’t know if I do some days. I just showed up. I struggled my freshman year. I thought about quitting because I was just not very good at kicking.

Coach Cash (Bill Cashman) was my kicking coach my freshman and sophomore seasons (at Lake Mary High School in north suburban Orlando) and then it was Coach Ryan (Ruland), who kicked at Florida (1990-93), my junior and senior years. Coach Cash showed me the ropes and taught me the basics, and Coach Ryan took me to the next level and gave me some special insight. He’s lived it and learned it.

I started going to camps way too late. I was just a sophomore and at one point I was ranked 150th on one list. I got connected with Kornblue Kicking where you go for one day and kick maybe 200 balls. I had no real idea I might be able to do this after high school. I was thinking more seriously about going to real estate development school. 

After my junior year I went to all the college camps and UCF was the first one. That was one of the best days I ever had kicking – the Lord let me kick some great balls. The ball was coming off my foot like it never had before—it was hard to explain. I went to a bunch of other schools, based mainly on what schools needed kickers. I did some research. I knew Daniel Obarski had one more year at UCF, so I thought once he graduated, I’d have a chance to be next man up if I worked at it. I went to schools that had senior kickers—Vanderbilt and Rice and all these different places.

Once (UCF special teams) Coach (Brian) Blackmon and Coach (Ben) Larson were calling me and texting me, I was thinking, “No way, I’m going to get my first preferred walk-on offer.” It was so insane. I was not very good my sophomore year, and then my junior year I had a few good field goals and a few good kickoffs. They wanted me to come to UCF on an unofficial visit to show me around the campus. Then they offered me a few weeks after that and I committed right on the phone. I had no other offers, so I told them, “Just let me commit right now.” It’s a 30-minute drive from our house to campus—it didn’t even feel like I was moving.

Honestly, I never followed UCF or anyone else when I was young. I really didn’t like sports that much. If I wasn’t playing soccer, I’d much rather go to the skate park. I liked just being a kid—skateboarding or surfing.

Tom Breckwoldt, my pastor at Lake Mary Church, and Coach (Brandon) Kornblue are people who have really helped me a lot. Coach Kornblue made a phone call to Coach Larson and said, “Hey watch out for this kid. He’s not too bad.”

I was really into weightlifting and bodybuilding in high school—but it was purely aesthetics. I like having a good physique. I think it helps me mentally with my kicking. It makes me feel good. From the waist down, I do very specific workouts that have a correlation to kicking—I’ve added a few extra yards by being in the wight room.

Our UCF coaches don’t really mess with my technique. When things are going well, they pat me on the back and if things are going bad, they’ll pat me on the back. They know who I am. They know what they are working with. If something goes wrong, they know I’m going to beat myself up. They let me do my own thing, to a great extent. I’m already dissecting it all myself, so it’s nice having their trust.

Kicking is about finding out what works best for you. It’s very much individual--I can do one thing and someone else can do the same thing and it doesn’t work for them.

FB_CK_4953_093023_14340723Colton Boomer | Photo by: Conor Kvatek

I look at (former Florida State kicker) Roberto Aguayo video a lot. Then (Baltimore Ravens kicker) Justin Tucker highlights. I keep up with the rookies in the NFL—Chad Ryland of the (New England) Patriots and Jake Moody of the (San Francisco) 49ers. I’ll watch my own game film because I love seeing the view of kicks from behind. But I don’t watch that much of myself because I have every kick memorized. If I’m sitting down at lunch, I think back to every kick that day and what I can do to make each one better. It’s like a constant obsession that gets worse over time. 

It’s the only job on the field that’s not subjective. Justin Tucker hit a game-winner and he said to his teammates, “You guys are the paragraph, and the specialists are just the commas and periods.” I thought that was great. That’s so real. We can end sentences, and we also can begin them. We don’t do a lot, but our jobs do carry weight--so there’s power in that.

Preparation during the week is 99% mental. I remember the week of the Georgia Tech game last year I was awful Tuesday and Wednesday--and then Saturday I was four for four. I start Sunday night by deleting all my social media. Monday is a decompression day. Monday night, I start preparing—this is what I learned from the last game. Then Tuesdays and Wednesdays are workdays. I do my field goals at the beginning of practices and do kickoffs on Wednesdays. By Thursday afternoon I go into game-day mode—I’m in my turtle shell for the rest of Thursday and Friday. Then on Saturday you get off the bus, kind of turn the lights on and let everything go free. Every game is its own season. Kicking is based on, “What did you do today?” No one cares about last week. I have the mindset of a couch fan. It’s cool I did that last Saturday, but what did I do today?

Kicking is all geometry and understanding that an extra point is a 16-degree window. I never had an opportunity in high school to kick a 50-yard field goal. In practice I would hit from 60 (yards). Now I can hit from 70. But it’s a way different deal when you’ve got nine guys down and 10 guys rushing. I’ve always had a big leg, but it’s way different in a game.

I’m fortunate. I haven’t really gone through any kind of dry spell yet as far as kicking. Knock on wood. I hope it doesn’t happen. I won’t get complacent—there’s always something to work on. Even if the ball goes straight down the middle, you can always tweak something.

I used to be superstitious, but it’s no way to live. I’ve always been big on wristbands--one on my left wrist and two on my right. Some days I’ll wear five on my left wrist just to make my brain mad. You can kick with 10 wristbands on your arm, and it doesn’t matter. You don’t need these-colored cleats or tape on your wrist. Even at Oklahoma I told myself, it’s not the wrist tape that makes the ball go through the uprights, it’s the process.

My web site has been great because it’s gotten me in touch with a few high school players who I will text weekly. We talk about the mental side of it. It’s awesome to be able to help these kids out. You must be vulnerable in sharing what you know. 

My faith is the reason I kick – I don’t kick for my faith. That’s the best way to put it. I don’t really like sports all that much. It’s just a distraction from reality. I kick so I can plant seeds and one day when I’m older I’ll be able to harvest them. Hopefully some grown men or some young kids are sitting on the couch and maybe they think, “Hey, there’s something different about that kid. What’s his deal? Oh, he follows the Lord. Let me try that out. What does that look like?” Football is a platform to show what my beliefs and morals really are. And in the process, I just want to help my team out.