Henrique Ribeiro likes Chattanooga. The Brazilian-born Baylor senior has friends here, is comfortable here and likes the idea of staying here for college.
That's why the 2011 Mr. Football Kicker of the Year is signing with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga today.
"UTC's a really good situation for me," said Ribeiro, who has been kicking only a couple of years and is still mastering the technique. "Being here has been so good for me, so why not stay here four more years?"
During Baylor's run back to the Division II-AA state title game last season, Ribeiro had touchbacks on 49 of his 53 kickoffs. He made 40 of 41 extra points and of his eight field goals, in 11 attempts, three were from 51 yards or more.
With numbers like those Ribeiro drew some interest from Football Bowl Subdivision schools, but most wanted him to walk on, he said. UTC initially offered him the chance to walk on - the Mocs already have a scholarship kicker in Nick Pollard, the 2009 kicker of the year in Tennessee, so the position wasn't a priority in recruiting.
The Mocs then offered him a 50-percent scholarship, he said, which was bumped up to 75 percent after he participated in a kicking camp last month in Orlando, Fla. While looking for a full ride, Ribeiro said being on a partial scholarship is a great motivator.
"It's all on me. If I do good, what they expect me to do and what I expect myself to do, then maybe by next year I'll have a full scholarship," he said. "I know I'm going to try to walk in there and do my best."
A goalkeeper on Baylor's soccer team, Ribeiro has plenty of experience punting soccer balls and could get a shot as UTC's punter. Pollard is also trying to land that job.
A member of the All-Southern Conference freshman team last season, Pollard has three years remaining. Ribeiro said he's looking forward to competing for playing time in the years to come.