Placekickers typically don't get a lot of attention from football fans, but Jeremy Shelley says he can't walk around Tuscaloosa, Alabama, without being approached by Crimson Tide fans wanting an autograph or a photo.
But that's what happens when you kick five field goals to help your team beat your archrival in the national championship game, as Shelley did when Alabama squared off against LSU in 2012. It was one of three national championships that Alabama won while Shelley was on the team.
Not that Shelley is complaining about his time in Alabama, mind you. Shelley had the kind of game -- on a huge stage -- that most kickers could only dream of. "That was a career game for me," he said. "Every one of those kicks is a memory for me."
Shelley got his start as a kicker at Broughton, after talking to the school's soccer and football coaches about whether they would allow him to play both fall sports. They did, and Shelley was the kicker and punter for the varsity football team for four years and an outside midfielder and center back on the varsity soccer team for three years.
Shelley had primarily played soccer as a kid, but says he decided to try his hand at football just for the fun of it. But then, after kicking a game-winning extra point in the third game of his freshman year and a 51-yard field goal in a pouring rain in a game against Chapel Hill his sophomore year, Shelley realized he might be able to give it a try in college.
"Originally, it was just for fun," he said, "but I saw that I was pretty good at it."
He also excelled on the soccer field, as part of a team that won back-to-back state championships for Broughton. "Both of those state championships were so much fun," he said. "That was such a good squad."
While Shelley once thought he might play soccer in college, he started to get some feelers from college coaches about playing football. Initially, Shelley heard from smaller schools and nearby schools like East Carolina. But after excelling at a football camp at Alabama the summer before he graduated from Broughton in 2009, Shelley was offered a spot as a recruited walk-on for the Crimson Tide.
Following his success at Alabama, Shelley signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons to see if he could land a job in the NFL. He lasted through the pre-season, but didn't survive the final cuts. He now says he is "hanging up his cleats" and is back in Raleigh with is family while he sorts through career options.
As for this year's Broughton soccer team, which is undefeated midway through the season, Shelley was impressed with what he saw in Wednesday night's 5-0 win over Wake Forest. "They look great," he said.