Dartmouth Athletics relies quite heavily on one arm and one leg of Don Kephart.
The junior is the kickoff specialist and back-up field goal kicker for Big Green football. And in the spring, he suits up for the track team as a thrower, participating in shot put, discus and javelin.
Growing up in Lafayette, Calif., Kephart was “exclusively a soccer player” until middle school, apparently strengthening his legs for the role that was to come.
He started on the track team in middle school, but it wasn’t until high school that he stepped onto the football field.
Kephart didn’t find his specialty right away, starting with a gamut of positions like running back and linebacker until the freshman team at Acalanes High School was in need of a kicker. Every rookie had to give it a shot, and Kephart emerged the victor.
“I had the best leg,” he said simply.
After starting his college career on Dartmouth’s junior varsity team, the kicker’s leg soon won him a starting varsity spot.
He played the last six games of the 2007 season, averaging 60.7 yards per kick. The job was all his in 2008, as he played in each of the Big Green’s 10 games and averaged 59 yards per kick. In the first two games this season, Kephart has kicked off seven times at an average of 53 yards.
Although his job as the kickoff man usually flies somewhat under the radar, that’s okay with Kephart.
He said “Do your job” is coach Buddy Teevens’ motto for each of his players.
“So for me personally, my job is to kick the ball off where it needs to go with good hang time every time,” he said.
And once in a while, Kephart gets to help out in other ways. One of the highlights of his career is making a tackle his freshman year.
“My parents were at the game, so it was fun for them to see that,” he said.
Usually on the football field, he lets his leg do the talking.But once the snow thaws long after football season, it’s his arm that does the work.
In fact, it was track that initially led him to Hanover.
“When it came time to go to college, the track coach encouraged me to come throw here,” Kephart said.
“The opportunity” to kick at Dartmouth followed.
But the two-sport athlete can’t pick a favorite of the two — or rather, doesn’t want to.
“[My favorite’s] pretty much whatever I’m doing,” Kephart said.
When Dartmouth hosts Penn this weekend in both squads’ first Ivy matchup, the Quakers will definitely be affected by Kephart’s leg.
And who knows, maybe that throwing arm of his will make a surprise appearance.Comments powered by Disqus
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