Standing at 6-foot-3 inches tall and weighing in at 180 pounds, Our Lady of Perpetual Help School eighth-grader Alex Darras, 14, is already kicking his way to success on the football field.
Prokicker ranks him as the No. 1 middle school kicker in the United States in 2012. Prokicker, started by famous punter Ray Guy, is the premier U.S. kicking camp. The camp trained 18 current NFL kickers, including Zolton Mesko of the New England Patriots.
"The force with which Alex kicks the ball is incredible. I've never seen a middle school kicker do the things he can do and have seen only a couple of high school kickers on his level," said OLPH defensive football coach Bill Dearing. "He has an unbelievable future."
Alex will enroll in the Prokicker camp for his third straight year this summer.
"My brother pushed me to play sports," he said, referring to his athletic inspiration, 22-year-old Michael Darras. "He definitely keeps me focused and motivated because he wants what's best for me."
Alex, who lives in Ooltewah, said his brother works out with him to an Insanity workout video involving cardio, plyometrics and power resistance exercises. Alex also credits his father, Chris Darras, and his OLPH coaches for drilling him toward success.
The next step for Alex will be kicking field goals for Notre Dame High School in the fall of 2012.
"My dream is to play football for the University of Tennessee and to run through the big T," said Alex, adding that he is also interested in being an agent for a sports team. "I have straight A's. If I don't keep good grades, then I can't play sports and that's not good."
Remarkably, Alex only started playing football three years ago as a sixth-grader at OLPH. He began playing soccer at age 4, training his legs for kicking action from the start.
Alex continues to play soccer as well as basketball and baseball. He has played various football positions for OLPH including offensive line, defensive line, receiver, quarterback and kicker.
"We were blessed to have him on the team and look forward to watching him on Friday nights at Notre Dame," said Dearing.
Dearing's brother, OLPH offensive football coach Bucky Dearing, said he could see Alex playing football on Sundays one day.
"You narrow the pool when you get down to excellent kickers," said Bucky Dearing. "I think he will be a standout in high school and play D1 sports one day."