USC will be first start, first football game for UVA kicker

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

For his 24th birthday on July 10, Virginia kicker Yannick Reyering received a portable Playstation and Madden 09 from his girlfriend -- in part to keep himself amused on road trips, but moreso to learn a little more about football.

"I haven't really figured it out yet," he said.

Don't panic, Hoos fans. The native of Mettingen, Germany, is allowed a bit of a learning curve. Not only will Reyering make his first start on Saturday against USC, but he'll also be playing in his first football game. Ever.

Virginia coach Al Groh said Reyering will probably handle the kickoffs and place kicks.

The former UVA soccer star would be playing professionally now, had he not gotten injured. He finished his career with 39 goals and over 20 assists, and was taken in the MLS Supplemental Draft by FC Dallas.

Knowing that former Cavalier Chris Gould had graduated and Reyering had exhausted his soccer eligibility, Virginia soccer coach George Gelnovatch suggested Reyering try football. Gelnovatch said Reyering loves the pressure: he handled the penalty kicks.

"I'm a little nervous," Reyering said, "but not really. I've played in front of a couple of thousand people before, but obviously it's going to be something different."

Before Reyering came to the United States in fall of 2005, he said he couldn't name a single team in the NFL or college football. The first weekend he arrived at Virginia, he went to the home season opener and left at halftime because he didn't know what was going on and "it was so long."

Now he has no choice but to stay until the clock runs out.

The coaches and other players helped introduce him "to the entire American football thing."

Is he good at it?

"You'll see in the game," he said.

What's his range?

"You'll find out."

"I'm not really approaching the ball any different than a soccer ball," he said. "My soccer coach said, either you can do it as a soccer player, or you can't do it at all."

Due to the NCAA's amateurism rules, he only had three years of soccer eligibility. He is listed as a senior, but has two years of football eligibility.

"I've caught up on 99 percent of the rules," he said. "When I came into camp, obviously I was focused on what I have to do and what my job was, but being part of the team it's good to know what else is going on and when I have to be on the field and when I have to prepare for going out there, kicking field goals. I spent lots of time up in the coach's office and in the office watching tape and getting familiar with the rules and doing as much as I can to familiarize myself with the game."

And that includes playing Madden 09.