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July 22, 2014

Belleville West kicker chosen to play in big game

The booming leg of Belleville West senior kicker and punter Austin Seibert has earned him a spot in the prestigious 2015 UnderArmour All-American Game.

The University of Oklahoma recruit received the invitation Sunday afternoon after finishing up another successful run at the Kohl's Kicking Camp in Waukesha, Wis., where some of the nation's top kickers and punters were competing.

"They select the top two kickers and top two punters throughout the camp," said Seibert, who is 5-foot-10 and weighs 185 pounds. "It was pretty much based on what I did at the camp."

The eighth annual UnderArmour All-American Game will be held the first week of January at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. The game is broadcast nationally on ESPN and includes some of the nation's top college recruits.

"I've been dreaming about the UnderArmour game for eight or nine years, so I've been ready for it," Seibert said. "I just wanted it to happen for real. Just to be selected to that game, it's the biggest game in the country nationally and knowing that I'm in it with the best of the best kids ... plus it's going to be awesome playing on national TV."

Seibert, who lives near Millstadt, committed to Oklahoma in May after choosing between nearly a dozen major Division I offers.

He is one of four kickers selected to play in the UnderArmour game. Among the star players who have played in the game previously are NFL star wide receivers A.J. Green and Julio Jones, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.

Former East St. Louis High and University of Illinois standout Terry Hawthorne played in the 2009 UnderArmour All-American Game. Former Highland all-state lineman and current Nebraska freshman Tanner Farmer played in the 2014 game last January.

As a junior last fall, Seibert had nine field goals and was successful on 41 extra-points, averaging 46.8 yards on punts and close to 75 yards on kickoffs.

In his first three seasons with the Maroons, Seibert is 17-of-24 on field goals and 80-of-86 on extra points

Seibert said he was first in kickoff distance last weekend at the Kohl's camp with a 78-yard average and second in punts.

"Field goals were decent, but I just didn't hit well on field goals this weekend," he said.

Along with being chosen for the All-American game, Seibert will be honored again later this year.

"They give you a jersey and come to your school and interview you," he said. "You're treated like a pro almost."

Seibert's longest field goal to date is a 66-yarder outside of game conditions.

"It's on film," he said. "I've tried from 70 and I came up a lot of yards short, but probably in the near future I might (hit one)."

The Illinois state high school record for longest field goal is 59 yards by Lockport's Nick Setta on Oct. 25, 1996. The metro-east record is 55 yards by former Alton Marquette, Notre Dame and NFL kicker and punter Craig Hentrich in 1988.

"I do want to have a try at 60," Seibert said. "I can put it through, but we've got to get our timing down and all that. I've been wanting to do that since sophomore year."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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