January 1, 2000 - by
Kicker Leaving Early For NFL

Jan. 1, 2000

By BRENT KALLESTAD
Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Kicker Sebastian Janikowski will play his final college
game in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday, leaving a year early for the NFL with his
mighty left leg.

On the Florida State campus, he is as well known for a deft pool cue and a
fondness for all-night parties.

“A lot of stuff about him going out and staying out all night and still
coming in and kicking 50-yard field goals, that’s all true,” teammate Clay
Ingram said Friday. “That’s the way he is. The legend is real.”

Janikowski, a two-time All American and only current player on a recently
selected college team of the century, is almost perfect in his career on big
kicks and tricky shots at pool halls around the Tallahassee campus.

“For a lot of us, our idea of relaxing is going home and watching TV,”
said Ingram, deep snapper for the top-ranked Seminoles. “He’ll stay in a bar
until 3 o’clock in the morning shooting pool and drinking, and that’s relaxing
to him.”

Janikowski really enjoys New Orleans.

“I love seafood, shrimp,” said Janikowski, who looks forward to kicking in
a dome for the first time in two years.

Janikowski, who picks out a fan seated in the stands as a target for his
kicks during games, predicted he’d have a range of up to 68 yards inside the
Superdome in the game against No. 2 Virginia Tech.

“I like kicking indoors, definitely,” Janikowski said.

Fullback Dan Kendra says his teammate is competitive in everything he does
and he excels at most of it.

“I saw him play pool one day and he’s amazing,” Kendra said. “He was
doing these shots … he’s a great athlete. He’s just the kind of guy you
watch. You never know what’s happening with him.”

Indeed, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden says the 6-2, 255-pound Janikowski
could probably play linebacker.

“Except you couldn’t take a chance on him hurting that million-dollar
leg,” Bowden said.

Although he’s won the Lou Groza Award twice, Janikowski missed the first
awards banquet for academic reasons and barely made it this year as he drove to
West Palm Beach instead of going on a state airplane courtesy of the school.

“It was worth the drive,” he said. “I’m sorry I missed last season.”

But missing is something that rarely happens on the field, where Janikowski
has connected on better than 80 percent of his field goal attempts the past two
years.

Janikowski, 21, is anxious to turn professional so he can get bring his
mother, Halina, from Poland to the U.S. She saw Janikowski play once for
Florida State, two years ago in the Seminoles’ 31-14 Sugar Bowl victory over
Ohio State.

“It’s been a long time,” said Janikowski, who talks to his mother by
telephone about once a month.

“That’s always on his mind,” Ingram said. “When she was here for that
Sugar Bowl, he was just so happy. It was great to see him like that.”

Janikowski’s father, Henryk, lives in Panama City, Fla., and sees his son
often.

Not only has Janikowski kicked 50 field goals in the past two seasons, but
most of his kickoffs go beyond the end zone, making it impossible for opponents
to return.

“He is a tremendous weapon,” said Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud
Foster. “As soon as that ball gets around midfield, he’s a threat to get out
there and has the leg to do that.

“He’s a guy that always gives them an edge because of the strength of his
leg and then the accuracy he kicks with.”

While Janikowski didn’t make it for all his classes at Florida State, he
made enough of them over the last three years to be a main part of a Seminole
powerhouse that has a 34-3 record during that span.

Although Janikowski played just three seasons, he missed the Atlantic Coast
Conference scoring record by just two points. Former Seminole kicker Scott
Bentley scored 326 points in four years to Janikowski’s 324.

Janikowski, who has been in the U.S. nearly six years, was 15 when he first
arrived in the country and didn’t speak English very well when he came to
Florida State in 1997.

His kicking is better, his language has improved and he’s moving on to the
NFL.

“He’s going to be amazing,” predicted Kendra.

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