CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- While most eyes have been on the quarterbacks, another position battle is quietly emerging as University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football gets ready to begin its regular season routine this week.
Freshman kicker Henrique Ribeiro's late surge in the closing days of training camp is putting pressure on incumbent Nick Pollard, and head coach Russ Huesman believes that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"It's good to have two. It's good to have competition," Huesman said. "Two years ago we had none, and it definitely cost us, so we're happy to have Henrique.
"But Nick is still a quality kicker, no question."
Nicknamed "Brazil" by his teammates because its his home country, Ribeiro started slow in fall camp while making the transition to the college level. The Baylor school grad suffered early from what Huesman called "that freshman tired leg," but put any health concerns to rest by hitting a pair of field goals in Sunday's final scrimmage, including a 52-yarder.
"I had some tough times during camp. It was hard getting used to the amount of kicking between high school and college," said the Baylor School grad. "The rush was difficult to adjust to, as well, and I had a few kicks blocked early in camp.
"But coming back (Sunday) and getting past all that, I feel like I'm ready for everything to come in the next few years now."
Whether that includes a major special teams role as a freshman, Huesman isn't ready to tell. However, he will admit Ribeiro has caught his eye over the past few weeks.
"We're going to continue to evaluate them. It may be a situation where Nick kicks the short ones and Henrique kicks the longer ones," Huesman said. "Henrique has come a long way in this camp and seems to be feeling better. Kicking that 52-yarder, it looked like he had plenty of leg on that one.
"We still have a lot of practice time left. I may not make a decision until it's game time."
Whatever the decision is, Ribeiro is ready to accept it and play the role he's been dealt.
"I have to show respect to Nick. He's been here three years now and he knows what he's doing. So many of the things I've learned through camp I learned from him," Ribeiro said. "I want to fight for game time, of course I want to play, but I'll respect the coaches' decision if they want to go with Nick."
The Mocs broke training camp Sunday with their second and final scrimmage of the preseason. After taking Monday off for the first day of classes, they will return to their normal regular season practice routine at 3:55 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Scrappy Moore Field.
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